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Dentists brighten East County smiles

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 9, 2011
Dr. Amir Guirguis examines the mouth of 6-year-old Eason Rogers, who attends Prine Elementary.
Dr. Amir Guirguis examines the mouth of 6-year-old Eason Rogers, who attends Prine Elementary.
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MANATEE COUNTY — Seven-year-old Daniel Campbell couldn’t resist a grin as he emerged from a dentist chair and plodded toward the front office.

His first official visit to the dentist’s office during Creekwood Dental’s Give Kids a Smile day Feb. 4 resulted in one tooth pulled and one cavity filled.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Daniel’s mom, Lauralee, said of the program. “It’s really easy to overlook dental hygiene, especially when they are young, and it’s hard to afford it. This gives him the opportunity to get quality dental care.”

Daniel and other children from 13 Manatee County schools, including six in the East County, received much-needed oral care thanks to the collaboration of their school nurses and local dental professionals. About 40 children participated in the event, which was organized through Creekwood Dental’s participation in the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile day, a national campaign for dentists to provide free oral health-care to low-income families on the first Friday in the month of February.

“There’s a large need, especially in Florida, to (treat) children,” Creekwood Dental’s Dr. Amir Guirguis said, noting there are 20,000 children in Manatee County without access to dental care. “It’s a big number. For a lot of kids, this is their first visit or the only trip of the year they can see the dentist.”

Guirguis said the day’s events were meant not only to provide children with much-needed care and get them out of pain but also to take time to educate them about good dental habits.

Fifteen dental assistants and staff members and five dentists volunteered their services.

School nurses, who referred many of the children for services, also were on hand to greet patients and answer questions.

“If they’re not hurting, they’re able to concentrate,” Myakka Elementary nurse Deidre Olson said. “It does provide a venue in which you can talk to them about what they are eating (and other things).”

Creekwood Dental hosted its first Give Kids a Smile day in February 2009 after seeing an article in The East County Observer about a group of school nurses, including Olson, who hoped to solicit the help of local dentists in treating needy children for tooth decay and other issues they were seeing at school.

Since then, nurses also have partnered with Manatee Technical Institute’s dental hygienist program to provide dental care to children. In fact, many of the children at Creekwood’s Give Kids a Smile day were referred to the program by an MTI clinic in late January.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Participating dentists
Dr. Jennifer Pfeiffer, of Creekwood Dental
Dr. Amir Guirguis, of Creekwood Dental
Dr. Veronica Thompson, of Largo (formerly of Creekwood Dental)
Dr. Judy Losecco, of Comfortable Care Dental in Sarasota
Dr. Kristine Smith, of Oak Family Practice in Sarasota



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