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Wed, Nov. 20

Just for grins

Prescott Valley dentist Dr. Russel Dalton gave kids a smile this past month during the American Dental Association's "Give a Kid a Smile Day."

Dalton donated his time and

services to help children with little or no insurance coverage with their dental problems.

Audri Warden, 6, was one of the children benefiting from Dalton's volunteer work. Her mother, Chari Warden, is grateful for Dalton giving her daughter her smile back.

Warden explained that Audri had an abscessed tooth that had been causing her pain and making it difficult to eat normally.

"Dr. Dalton removed the abscessed tooth, gave her a filling, and made a metal spacer to put in between, so the adult tooth can grow in," Chari Warden said. "I think he made it himself on the spot, it was amazing."

Warden added that her daughter had never been to a dentist before.

"He explained everything to her, and said she had to trust him, and she did. She didn't cry at all. He made her feel very comfortable," she said.

Audri felt instantly better, ac-

cording to Warden. "I've never had a dentist as nice as he was. We're so grateful to him."

"I've been (volun-

teering) for three years," Dalton said. "It's an extremely good feeling, being able to make a difference for these children."

Dalton said he read a mailer from the

State Dental Group about the event, and immediately knew he

needed to be a part of it. "The Phoenix area has dental

clinics that could provide for people who can't afford insurance," Dalton said. "There aren't many like that in the Prescott area."

Dalton described it as a "wonderful feeling," being able to work with the children in need.

He worked a full day as a pro bono volunteer with children who were screened as needing dental care

by the Yavapai Regional Medical

Center.

Dalton worked with the YRMC's program "Partners for Healthy

Students," a program that provides free health care to children in the

tri-city area.

"Some of these kids had severe dental problems," Dalton said. "Many had abscesses in their teeth, horribly infectious, causing a lot of pain and suffering."

The work Dalton did included providing sealants, treating cavities, removing baby teeth that he needed to pull, and providing guidance on proper tooth care.

"Many of these children never learned how to brush properly," he said. "They need to know how to take care of their teeth."

In addition to the social prob-

lems of bad teeth and the pain of the infections, Dalton said such dental issues also impact nutrition.

"A child with a mouth full of bad teeth can't eat properly ­ they can't obtain proper nutrition," he said.

The problem of dental care for children from poor families is widespread, especially in the Prescott area, Dalton said.

Mary Ellen Sandeen, the program manager for YRMC's Partners For Healthy Students, said other dentists offer their services to the program, but Dalton is the most consistent to do so. Sandeen works in clinics in several area schools, and referred the children in need of dental care to Dalton on Give Kids a Smile Day.

"Tooth infection is the number one infectious disease in children," Sandeen said. "Many people don't know that. We see a lot of problems here, but dental care has been identified as one of the primary needs."

Sandeen explained that the dental problems the children carried were detrimental to their education as well as their health.

"These children can't focus on school. They're in pain all day long. We're trying to reduce absenteeism, make it so kids can just be kids, and focus on school, without dealing with constant pain."

Contact the reporter at dmeurer@prescottaz.com

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