Eau Claire, WI – Sue Walders was on a mission. Sitting in the waiting room of the Chippewa Valley Technical College Dental Clinic with a number of dental problems of her own, she didn’t want to her great-grandson, Oliver Hubener, to be in pain later in his life. Walders, of Chippewa Falls, thought it best to start early with his dental care.
So Walders brought the 15-month-old Oliver to the CVTC Dental Clinic’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day Friday, Feb. 7 for his first dental visit.
Give Kids a Smile Day is sponsored nationally by the American Dental Association and statewide by the Wisconsin Dental Association, which provided supplies for the event at CVTC. Local dentists, hygienists and dental assistants volunteer their time to provide free care are joined by CVTC Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant students as well as CVTC and Dental Clinic faculty.
“For many of these kids, this is the only time they get any dental treatment. That’s why this event is so important,” said Pam Entorf, director of CVTC’s Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant programs. “And all these people who are donating their time and talents realize it’s important. That’s why they come back to help us out year after year.”
Dental Hygienist Instructor Sandy Schumacher said Walders was doing the right thing by bringing young Oliver early. “We encourage people to bring their children to the dentist as young as one,” she said. “It’s about education.”
“I made the appointment for Oliver,” Walders said, noting that his parents were working and she takes care of him a couple of days a week. “My children all have good teeth, and I want to make sure he will too. I’ve been giving him a little battery-operated toothbrush so he gets used to it.”
“That first experience has to be positive,” said Dr. Nick Miskulin, a native of Stetsonville who is a resident dentist at the CVTC Dental Clinic from the Marquette University School of Dentistry. “It’s very important to start out right. It’s very difficult if we don’t get them in the dental chair until they’re six years old.”
LeAnn Coss of Plum City brought her three boys, ages 8, 15 and 16, to the clinic. She said they hadn’t been to a dentist in one to two years. “We don’t have any dental insurance. “If we’re in pain, we go. Otherwise, we use the money for something else.”
Coss said her oldest son’s teeth are in good shape, as he is good about brushing, but the other two have some problems. The youngest was going to have a tooth extracted.
The event is a valuable learning experience for CVTC students as well.
Alysha Butterfield, a first-year Dental Hygienist student from New Auburn, said the second-year students did the teeth cleaning and other hands-on patient care duties during the event while first-year students helped with X-Rays, charting and general assistance.
“It’s nice to be around kids,” Butterfield said. “We kind of talk them through it if they’re nervous.”
“I like helping kids,” said Holly Schesel, a first-year Dental Hygienist student from Stanley, who previously completed the Dental Assistant program at CVTC. “I’ve worked at a pediatric dental office for three years. Today I’m helping with X-Rays, charting, sterilizing, or anything else I can do.”
With over 155 programs offered both online and on-campus, Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the community. CVTC programs are designed with input of business and industry to prepare graduates for today’s jobs, with 95 percent employed within six months of graduation and associate degree graduates earning an average annual salary of $46,816.