Gainesville Kids Receive Free Dental Checkups

Harper Melosh, 4, gets her teeth checked by UF Health pediatric residents on Thursday. (Alexandra Booth/WUFT News)

By Alexandra Booth

Gainesville dentists are helping kids smiles shine a bit brighter — for free.

UF Health pediatric residents partnered with the Florida Department of Health to give kids free dental screenings and fluoride treatments today at the Southwest Dental Clinic in Gainesville.

“These children may have fallen through the cracks and they need any extra help they can get,” said Larry Brock, a periodonist who works at the clinic. Brock oversaw the screenings along with UF Health pediatric residents.

The screenings help the kids and practitioners alike.

“It’s a win-win situation because the (pediatric) residents are getting experience and knowledge on this field, and at the same time the children are getting screened for oral diseases and eventually treated,” Brock said.

Children with cavities or other needs beyond a normal screening could schedule an appointment at the clinic, Brock said.

Each child received a bag with toothpaste, a toothbrush, floss and a book as part of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Brush, Books, Bed initiative, according to a news release.  

The event was held as part of Healthy Smiles Day, in honor of the late Richard Bucciarelli, former chair of the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics.

Harper Melosh watches as her twin sister, Wren, gets her teeth checked. Dentists found Wren to have a cavity and her father, Dave, scheduled an appointment for next week. (Alexandra Booth/WUFT News)
Harper Melosh watches as her twin sister, Wren, gets her teeth checked. Pediatric residents found Wren to have a cavity and her father, Dave, scheduled an appointment for next week. (Alexandra Booth/WUFT News)

David Melosh, a Gainesville resident, brought his 4-year-old twin daughters, Harper and Wren, for checkups. They liked the free floss and books.

Melosh has a connection to Bucciarelli – he was his girlfriend’s father. 

“It’s really sweet to see the program he started and it being down in his name and how he continues to help kids,” he said.

Editors note: This story has been updated accurately reflect that the residents working with the patients are pediatric residents, not dentists or dental residents. 

About Alexandra Booth

Alexandra is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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