COLUMBIA - Since its start in 1974, the King's Daughters dental aid program has grown to help an average of more than 100 students per year. The help that the organization provides continues past the first visit to ensure prolonged dental health for children.
Dentists who participate in the program provide children with treatments of urgent and emergency dental problems. Each dentist office then works with the patient to complete other dental procedures that are needed. The overall goal is to promote healthier oral hygeine by encouraging children to be aware of dietary choices and habits.
These volunteer dental aid dentists see close to six new patients each year and provide routine half yearly preventative dental visits.
Dr. Lori Henderson is one of the 52 dentists who participate in the program. Henderson said she sees the success of the program on the level of the relationships that are built through the dental care process.
"I think on the surface, it's obvious the mission is about relieving dental pain and repairing damage of tooth decay," Henderson said. "But from the success of the program that I see is the relationship building between the dentist, the patient and their family, and the King's Daughters volunteers and the schools."
Henderson also said that the consistency of these relationships is the secret to the program's success.
"Having half the dentists in the community volunteer to participate to see patients as well as to have children that were in so much need graduate high school and be cavity free." Henderson said. "It's really a long-term relationship after all the dental pain and problems are fixed."
The dental aid program was started by the Dothy McArthur Circle of King's Daughters. After researching many options for serving their community, the group decided to start the dental aid program to fill an ongoing need. The circle's first fundraiser was a flea market that has now evolved into the holiday festival every November.
Sunday marked the last day of this year's 24th annual holiday festival. Vendors and shoppers filled the Holiday Inn Expo to get a kick start on finding holiday gifts for friends and family members.