Helping to Create New Smiles

Team Smiles Photo

The Dental Assisting students from West-MEC participated in a dental camp conducted by TeamSmile in September 2021.

TeamSmile is the nation’s premier advocacy group that partners oral health professionals with professional athletic organizations to provide life-changing dental care to underserved children.

The free camp was held at the Gila River Arena on Sept. 14 and 15 for children under 18. TeamSmile partnered with the Arizona Coyotes. Some of the oral treatments that were offered were dental check-ups, cleanings, and brush-on fluoride treatments. The third day of the camp was held in Tucson, on the 16th.

Julie Ehrman is the Dental Assisting instructor at West-MEC and a Certified Dental Assistant that has volunteered at TeamSmile events for the past eight years. TeamSmile is a program she is passionate about. Last year, West-MEC’s Dental Assisting program had the opportunity to participate. 

“This event is part of our work-based learning that we provide to the kids. It allows them to see what their future can be,” said Ehrman. “They get to see hygienists, assistants and dentists all in one place serving children in a six-hour window per day.”

The students provided dental education on how to brush and floss teeth. They gained hands-on experience making boil and bite mouth guards that children can use during sports to protect their teeth.

“The students were a huge asset to our program. They were wonderful with the patients and created awesome educational banners,” said Program Director of TeamSmile Kellie Reneau-Jardon.

In Arizona, West-MEC students were the only high school-aged volunteers in the TeamSmile phase II program. The approximate number of children treated in Phoenix was 225, with an additional 105 in Tucson which was hosted by the Tuscon Roadrunners. 

The goal of the program is to evaluate the patients and place them in a dental home. Apart from providing dental healthcare treatments, patients were given oral health education, and dental hygiene kits to encourage them to maintain their teeth.