Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Dental Center Gift for Healthy Smiles

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Dental Center Gift for Healthy Smiles

Article excerpt

Eager for one of the best presents money can buy, a healthy smile, children and parents waited patiently in the waiting room at Suncoast Dentistry for free exams, fillings, X-rays and tooth extractions on Saturday.

Inspired to help others, Suncoast Dentistry contacted John Annis, vice president of community investment at Community Foundation of Sarasota, which led them to 13th Avenue Dream Center in east Bradenton. Eighteen people from seven families who were referred through the center saw a dentist for free.

"Dental opportunities don't always offer themselves," said Alexdrena Green, director of operations of United Community Centers, which operates 13th Avenue Dream Center. Green screened families, made appointments and arranged for transportation to the new satellite Suncoast Dentistry office off U.S. 301 in Parrish.

Families qualified if they made less than $18,500 a year for a family of five.

"It was easy to identify families based on the population we serve," Green said.

According to Annis, Suncoast Dentistry provided nearly $9,000 worth of care Saturday; the total does not include staff time.

Dentists Joseph Vu and Sue Schlissel volunteered their time, but the staff was paid and three young volunteers helped.

Appreciative of the welcome people in the community offered at the new office, Suncoast Dentistry saw a chance to give back. Offering the free service for the first time, the goal is to create a tradition of service.

"We'd like to do one before Christmas and one before Easter," office manager Helene Vu said. "The community has welcomed us. We're grateful."

Patients seemed pleased with the outcome. Melissa Mapps received X-rays and six fillings. Her mouth numb, she still managed to offer a smile in gratitude.

The day also was a learning opportunity,

Imagine North Manatee seventh-grader Darius Tykal said he learned about the importance of sterilizing tools after watching the dental tools steamed.

"It kills germs," he said.

Receiving four fillings, a clean bill of dental health and a goody bag filled with toothpaste, dental floss and toothbrush, fourth-grader Keivon Johnson said he now knows the key to good dental health requires brushing and flossing. …

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