D.M.D. Students Host Super Sealant Saturday, Provide Free Dental Care to Area Children
For the third year, the D.M.D. students organized Super Sealant Saturday, a day of free preventative dental care for local children. On April 8, a total of 196 children attended the event at the college and 184 received treatment.
A student-run event providing free dental exams, dental sealants, fluoride varnish and plenty of super-hero and educational carnival fun for children aged 6-17, Super Sealant Saturday was co-founded by Stephen Obeng, D.M.D., and Patrick Fitzgerald, D.M.D., in 2015 to help support the college’s access to care initiatives.
The program’s reach has nearly tripled since its inaugural event in 2015, and has served over 400 children from Alachua County during the last three years, with approximately 1,860 sealants placed, all at no cost to the families.
Every child that participates in Super Sealant Saturday receives an exam, which is valued at approximately $33, while the average cost of dental sealants is approximately $35 per tooth. Fluoride varnish, a $30 value, and oral hygiene instruction, worth $20, both add to the value of care provided, thus saving Alachua County children and their parents nearly $100,000 in dental treatment the last three years through Super Sealant Saturday.
UF third-year dental students Amanda Mullersman and Zinnia Sotolongo were co-chairs for Super Sealant Saturday 2017.
“We were thrilled with the turnout this year,” Mullersman said. “Our goal is to help children in our community achieve and maintain optimum oral health through the preventative treatments provided and oral hygiene education. This year, we added interactive displays showing the effects of sugar and plaque on teeth to emphasize the importance of home care. We also included oral hygiene and nutrition games to reinforce lessons taught during the oral hygiene presentation given to every child and their families.”
Beyond providing preventative dental care, the event aims to create a positive association with dentistry, as Super Sealant Saturday is often the first dental experience for many of the children in attendance, Mullersman and Sotolongo added. In addition to free dental care, children mingled and took photographs with the Tooth Fairy and Mighty Molar mascot, fed healthy food to the ‘happy tooth’ and unhealthy food to the ‘sad tooth,’ among other educational activities. All participants left with a goody bag, equipped with a toothbrush and toothpaste, in hand.
“We tried to make it a very festive atmosphere,” Sotolongo said. “We had music and streamers in the lobby, coloring stations, face painting, a photo booth with fun props, and 400 balloons throughout the event. The Oral Hygiene Instructions Carnival and presentation were also a hit.”
The students rely on donations and fundraising to cover event costs so Super Sealant Saturday is free for children and families. The Grad Cup and Psi Omega contributed funds, and the UFCD Dental Ambassadors hosted their annual talent show and bake-off, Acid Etch, which raised $1,100 towards Super Sealant Saturday.
In addition, Henry Schein, Gator Domino’s Pizza, Mayflower Cellars, Listerine, VOCO, Ultradent and 3M sponsored the event to make Super Sealant Saturday a success.
“Our hope is that the experience we created will have a lasting impact on the children and families in attendance,” Mullersman said. “I look forward to seeing Super Sealant Saturday continue to grow and improve.”
What Obeng and Fitzgerald started in 2015, serving 69 children that year, has already grown exponentially in the last two years and will be an annual tradition for years to come.