You can get a free dental checkup this weekend in Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Your dental health has a direct affect on the rest of your body.

Tooth decay is the one of the most common diseases, second only to the common cold.  Almost 65 million American adults have some form of periodontal disease.  And people with the disease are two times more likely to develop heart problems.

Those facts underscore the importance of getting a regular checkup for your teeth.

"Normally people clean out their garage and they clean out their closets, and they clean out their junk drawers.  We are trying to have people focus on themselves and take a look at their dental health," said Paula Brennen, a dental assisting program instructor at Brightwood College.

This Saturday, Brightwood College is hosting its first "Spring Cleaning Dental Event."  It's from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is open to anyone.  They won't be performing actual cleanings, but they will do a complete check of your teeth, mouth and gums.

"So we're just checking up on them. It's not a complicated process or procedure, but it can alert people to what problems they may have, and that's vital for their health," said Brightwood dental student Dortezah Parsons.

Tooth enamel may be the hardest structure in the human body, but when it starts to decay, many other problems can result.  Dental instructors and their assistants say they're basically examining your oral hygiene and telling you what may be wrong.  One of the dental students told FOX59 that her teeth used to make her embarrassed, so she knows all about the importance of a checkup for your physical and mental health.

"Well, when I finally got braces, my confidence was rather low.  I was a little shy, and I used to cover my mouth when I laughed because of my teeth and braces.  But I'm glad I got the braces because they gave me the confidence I have now and I want to bring that to other people," said dental student Mariana Corona.

People attending the dental event this weekend don't need an appointment. They can just walk in at 4200 South East Street in Indianapolis.  Organizers say the event is something positive for the patients, the community and their dental students.

"Without a doubt, dental assistants are definitely in demand, especially in our community.  There's a projected growth rate of 18% and that translates to more dental jobs for college students," said Jessica Lo, dental assistant program director at Brightwood.

The instructors, with the aid of the students, check out anyone coming in.  Then they tell them about what's going on with their teeth, and make recommendations for possible treatment, if needed.

"And then if they need help getting assistance or finding a dentist close to them, we can definitely help them with that as well," said Lo.

For the students, there are several careers offered at the college, with the emphasis being on fast and focused career training, with limited class sizes for better teacher/student interaction.

"We have day and night classes available, and then we also have a wonderful financial aid services team who can help students find out if they're eligible for financial aid and then they can also walk them through that sometimes overwhelming process," said Lo.

For many it's a career, but it's also much more.  Many of the students we spoke with say they like the interaction with patients and seeing the end results.

"I love seeing healthy smiles.  Smiles bring confidence and if I could improve someone's confidence, I want in," said Parsons.

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