Members of the Fort Smith community will be able to have a tooth pulled for free at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Dental Hygiene Clinic’s Free Extraction Day from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 7 on the first floor of the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center on Waldron Rd.
The event functions as both a community service project and an important learning experience for UAFS students, as Fort Smith area residents can get dental work done free of charge while providing valuable work experience for dental hygiene students.
Pam Davidson of Greenwood, executive director of the UAFS dental hygiene program, said Free Extraction Day “provides our students with an experience that helps to instill the importance of community service as future dental professionals.”
“This event provides area patients with access to free extractions. Many of the patients that we see have limited access to care, and we feel it is a great way to give back to the community,” she said.
Davidson also said it is a “tremendous learning experience” for the students.
“Second year students provide local anesthesia and assist the dentists during the extraction process. The first year students take care of all sterilization of instruments and dental operatories,” she said. “Students can apply what we have taught in the program and also get to work with area dentists, assistants and dental hygienists.”
Approximately 150 patients came to last year’s Free Extraction Day, according to Davidson, and they expect a similar number of patients this year.
The event’s funding comes mainly from a grant from Delta Dental, who is helping to fund the event for the second straight year. Supplies have also been donated by area dentists and dental supply companies.
“All dentists, assistants, hygienists, students and faculty donate their time to this event as well,” Davidson said.
UAFS offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene and will begin offering a bachelor’s degree beginning in August 2014. A dental clinic is operated as part of the teaching environment and provides dental health services to the public, including exams, cleaning X-rays and fluoride treatment.
Patients will be treated on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information on Free Extraction Day, call the clinic at Pam.firstname.lastname@example.org.