It’s all about those smiles

Published 9:18 pm Monday, November 5, 2012

Still smiling, Haley Burbage listens closely as Dr. William Mott of Pinehurst prepares to begin her dental exam. (Beaufort County Schools photo)


By Sarah Hodges, Beaufort County Schools

Wednesday was a day of smiles at Bath Elementary School.

On one side of the multipurpose room was a continuous line of students sitting for school pictures. On the other side of the room, a team from The Smile Programs … the mobile dentist — a national, mobile dental-care clinic. The local visits provide dental exams, cleanings, fluorides, sealants, x-rays, referrals and dental education. Beaufort County Schools has benefited from several visits by the team over the years.

Haley Burbage, a sixth-grader at Bath Elementary School, was one of the students scheduled to be seen by the team during this visit. She admits she once was scared to have teeth pulled and was likely to cry, but she has long since passed her fear of dental work.

“Smiles are really important,” Haley explained while waiting for her visit. “They are important to express how happy you are.”

With a great smile of her own, she seemed confident in her explanation.

“If you don’t take care of your smile, it will be harder to smile all your life,” she said.

Haley began her visit with x-rays by Smiles hygienist and team leader Shelley Petrocik. She is accustomed to up to driving an hour and a half — one way — to reach a site. She drove in from Richlands to staff the Bath Elementary School visit.

“We are in a school every day,” said Petrocik.

If there is one drawback for team members, it may be having a limit to what the team can do for children.

“There are days you wish you could do more,” she paused, “but to be able to help these children makes you feel really good.”

Once her x-rays were complete, Haley sat in the chair of Dr. William Mott of Pinehurst and his assistant Brittany Keener of Williamston for a checkup. This is a young person who cares for her teeth, so carefully that she has been known to never finish her Halloween candy. Her optimism was high.

Following his examination, Mott rendered his verdict. “I’d give her 98 out of 100.”

Haley responded with an even bigger smile than before the visit.

Her thoughts before going for her teeth cleaning, “It was less scary than a dentist office visit.”