Today, third-grader Allen Bazan is the picture of dental health: He’s got a gleaming smile, a twice-a-day brushing habit, and protective sealants covering his molars to ensure they stay cavity free.
That’s a change from last year, when an 8-year-old Allen first sat in a La Clinica dental chair as Happy Smiles dental staff visited Phoenix Elementary School to screen students for oral health issues. Allen, who had never been to a dentist, had eight cavities and needed root canals with crowns and extractions to address the growing issues in his mouth.
“He had never been to the dentist—we think that kids’ teeth fall out anyway, so it doesn’t matter,” said his mother, Elizabeth Bazan, through a translator. The family had moved from rural Mexico to the U.S. in 2016.
In the schools, Happy Smiles screens for issues, educates kids about care, and with parents’ permission provides fluoride treatment and molar sealants. In cases like Allen’s, kids are referred for follow-up care with a dentist. Allen didn’t have a dentist, so the Happy Smiles team scheduled follow-up at La Clinica’s East Medford Dental Clinic, where the boy saw a pediatric dentist who completed the work he needed over five appointments.
A check-up at the clinic in September showed he was cavity-free, and when Happy Smiles encountered him again—exactly one year after the team first saw him—they applied the sealants, a plastic tooth covering that protects molars from cavities.
“We’re very grateful that they saved him from being in pain and me worry about what to do now,” said Elizabeth Bazan. “Now I know that dental care is important” for everyone.
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