Students at Yelm High School and Yelm Extension School will receive free dental services on Friday, Jan. 31, in conjunction with the eighth-annual Dental Day.
The program is being coordinated by Yelm Dental and the Yelm High School Sports Medicine program. Paperwork is being distributed through the schools this week for those interested in booking an appointment.
Amy Johnson, office manager at Yelm Dental, said the program is an exciting opportunity for those involved to give back to the community.
The event originally started with Dr. R. Marlin Kay as a program to offer high school students in need of education on dental hygiene.
“As it progressed, we started working with teacher Gary Clinton,” said Johnson, who has been with Yelm Dental since before Kay started the event. “He started including his students into free dental day just so they can learn about the dental health profession.”
Clinton oversees the sports medicine program, and the event gives his students an intriguing look into the field of dental medicine.
“They’re a friendly, familiar face to the kids. They’re kind of a link between the high school and the dental office,” Johnson said.
Shortly after Kay retired, his practice was bought by Dr. Stephen Smith and Dr. Daniel Blackner. The duo continued Kay’s work and helped build it into the collaborative event it is today.
What sets this program apart from other free cleaning services is Yelm Dental’s commitment to educating high school students on proper dental health and hygiene.
“We want kids to know how to take care of their teeth because they’re hopefully going to have those teeth for their whole life … We also just want to serve our community,” Johnson said.
Every year, the number of appointments fluxuates. Last year, the program served three students, Johnson said, with the program serving roughly 10 the year before.
Regardless of how many they serve, there’s always a mix of feelings about going to a dentist appointment, Johnson said.
“You get some kids that are very excited about it and are thankful, and then you get kids who come in because their parents said so,” she said. “It’s overall a very positive experience, I think for us and the kids.”
Yelm Dental will have a new addition helping out with cleanings this year, Johnson said. Dr. Mackenzie Wood, new to the practice, will also be participating in the event.
For more information on this program, contact Yelm Dental directly at their office number, 360-458-5606.