Dental professionals promote proper oral hygiene to Fort Hood students
By Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas--As part of Children’s Dental Health Month, dental professionals from the U.S. Army Dental Activity here plan to educate almost 4,000 elementary school students about the importance of proper oral hygiene.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects more than 25 percent of U.S. children aged 2–5 years and 50 percent of those aged 12–15 years.
“The absolute best way for children to avoid cavities and gum disease is by daily brushing and flossing, along with a healthy diet,” said Staff Sgt. April Scales, DENTAC practice manager. “Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. By making it fun for the children to learn, we hope to drive the point home.”
The dental staff scheduled visits throughout February to six Fort Hood elementary schools to educate the children about good nutrition, proper brushing techniques and why brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing is important for good dental hygiene. The presentations were modified as age-appropriate for grades kindergarten through third.
A cartoon video from the American Dental Association featuring “Dudley the Dinosaur” showed the children importance of seeing a dentist twice a year and that good oral health happens through good habits.
At one of their first stops, Meadows Elementary School, Capt. (Dr.) Brandon Gage, dentist, talked to the children about the importance of proper nutrition and the effects of certain “bad” foods on teeth.
"This is about prevention and getting good habits started early. I treat adults and see firsthand how practicing good oral hygiene early on can make a difference in one’s dental health later in life," he said.
Specialists Julie Green and Angela Russell, who dressed as a tooth and tube of toothpaste respectively, engaged the children in learning about flossing. “It was just a fun way to help them remember that brushing alone won’t be enough to remove all the ‘sugar bugs’ between your teeth,” said Green. “By making learning fun, your message gets across to them—all these guys will remember how the ‘C’ method when flossing is the best for removing those ‘sugar bugs.’”
Sergeant Loudivie Enguillado agreed that the fun approach to learning is the best way to reach such a young audience. She used a wide-mouthed horse puppet and over-sized toothbrush to show the proper up and down, side-to-side technique for brushing.
“This is good way to get the kids thinking about taking care of their teeth. Parents need to get actively involved to encourage their children to brush and floss regularly,” she said. “They need to set a good example and usually children will follow their parents’ example.”
Kathy Woolard, school nurse for Meadows Elementary, said she appreciates the dental staff coming each year to the school.
“It’s one thing to have your parent harp on you about brushing your teeth, and quite another to have the ‘Sparkle Toothbrush Man’ tell you how important it is to take care of your teeth,” she said. “This is good for the students, because many of them don’t see a dentist as regularly as they should. This is just one way for them to meet and become familiar with dental people. It reinforces good advice and maybe takes away some of their initial fear of going to the dentist.”
Although not preferred, fear is one way to instill preventative habits. Many of the kindergarteners and second graders at Meadows said they were afraid that if they didn’t brush every day, “their teeth would fall out.”
“If you don’t take care of your teeth, your mouth can get nasty and then the kids will be asking, ‘what’s that smell?’” explained six-year old Lademi Aromolaran. “I brush my teeth every night before bed. Sometimes I do it myself, but mostly my mom or dad helps with flossing.”
Many of the children, quite a few toothless, admitted to the staff that they brush “all the time” and said they only lost their teeth because they were getting new ones, and they could give the baby ones to the tooth fairy.
“Some may have the attitude that you don’t need to care of baby teeth. But if they are not taken care of and cleaned properly, cavities can form and spread to the adult tooth buds still developing underneath the gums," Gage said.
After the presentation, each student was given a “goodie” bag containing a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste.
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Fort Hood Dental Activity Dentist Capt. (Dr.) Brandon Gage, assisted by the “Sparkle Toothbrush” Spc. Salvador Sanchez, talks to children Meadows Elementary School about the importance of proper nutrition and the effects of certain “bad” foods on teeth. As part of Children’s Dental Health Month, dental professionals from the Fort Hood DENTAC plan to educate almost 4,000 elementary school students on post about the importance of proper oral hygiene. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs)
Sergeant Loudivie Enguillado uses a wide-mouthed horse puppet and over-sized toothbrush to show Meadows Elementary school students the proper up and down, side-to-side technique for brushing. As part of Children’s Dental Health Month, dental professionals from the Fort Hood U.S. Army Dental Activity plan to educate almost 4,000 elementary school students on post about the importance of proper oral hygiene. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs)
Fort Hood Dental Activity technicians, Spc. Julie Green (tooth) and Spc. Angela Russell (tube of toothpaste), show third-graders at Meadows Elementary School how brushing is important to remove all the ‘sugar bugs’ between teeth. As part of Children’s Dental Health Month, dental professionals from the Fort Hood DENTAC plan to educate almost 4,000 elementary school students on post about the importance of proper oral hygiene. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs)
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