By Noah Grant, The Sanford Herald
SANFORD - Jaden Rodriguez, 8, struggled to fit his hand into a purple latex glove Friday morning inside Central Carolina Community College's Keller Health Sciences Building.
"This is too little," the J.R. Ingram Elementary School second-grader declared.
With a white robe and mask, the little dentist's outfit wasn't complete. So Jaden pulled and pulled on the glove until he was successful.
"Hey look, I'm a doctor," Jaden said to his fellow child dentists.
Jaden was among 50 J.R. Ingram Elementary students participating in Friday's Give Kids a Smile event at the college. Give Kids a Smile provides dental sealants and cleanings to children who may have less access to dental care.
Three groups of students took turns at several stations on the building's second floor. The tiny teeth cleaners gave checkups to stuffed animals like a green dinosaur. After their job was done, the dentists sculpted teeth out of yellow Play-Doh.
Inside the dental clinic, the college's dental hygiene students performed sealants, cleanings and X-Rays on the children.
The event's theme -- "Building a Healthier You" -- put a spotlight on overall health, rather than strictly dental. Danielle Bruner, dental hygiene course director, said it's important to show how dental health relates to the rest of the body.
A relay race and healthy snack of carrots, grapes and cheese helped drive the theme home.
"(It's) to really instill and promote a mouth-body connection, that your oral health is just as important as your overall health and that your overall health is important for your oral health," Bruner said.
The event is co-sponsored by the American Dental Association; CCCC, Dr. Antonio Braithwaite, of Sanford Pediatric Dentistry; and Dr. Ray Tseng of Southern Smile Pediatric Dentistry.
"I think anytime you can increase awareness, and help with potential access-to-care problems, it's a good thing for the community," Braithwaite said.
Central Carolina Community College dental hygiene student Brittney Teague performs dental work Friday on J.R. Ingram Elementary School student Tyliyah Bell, 7. Students received free dental care as part of Give Kids a Smile, sponsored by the American Dental Association.