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UNLV's 'Give Kids a Smile Day' offers free dental care to kids in need

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At seven years old, first grader Malakai Hurd already knows once you get past the baby teeth -- you have one shot to get it right.

“I'm most excited to get my teeth fixed and never have to worry about this again," said Malakai. "If you lose one of these big teeth. they won't grow back."

Malakai is one of an estimated 200 kids at UNLV'S dental school this weekend for the annual "Give kids a smile day" -- which brings free dental care to local, under-served children.

Malakai's mom, Glow Hurd, says the work her son needs is expensive -- so when she found out about the day -- she was sure to sign him up.

“[This is]very, very important especially for those that don't have insurance,” said Hurd. "What really needs to be done, it's gonna cost about $2500. Coming here, it's going to save me a whole lot of money."

Studies show nearly one in four children between the ages of 2 to 11 have untreated cavities in their baby teeth.

Doctor Rick Thiriot with UNLV's School of Dental Medicine says free events like these are important -- benefiting not only families in need, but the volunteers, as well.

"It provides an opportunity for children to come and have done, that they probably would never get done if we didn't offer this,” said Dr. Thiriot. "To have a kids smile that's been in pain. to allow them to eat when they couldn't -- those are the things that make dentistry what they are today."

For the Hurds, "Give Kids a Smile Day" is something to be thankful for, showing that even at seven years old, a positive trip to the dentist, can have a lasting effect.

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