Last week was busy for our Oral Health Instruction presenters, as Medical Teams International visited four elementary schools in the Evergreen School District, educating over 400 children. With the majority of the presentations being to 1st grade classes, this was the first time many of the children were exposed to formal dentistry education. We discovered that several children lacked basic knowledge of proper oral care, so it was new information to many.
With the help of Roo, our dentistry kangaroo puppet, we were able to demonstrate the proper way to brush teeth, with emphasis on how many times a day and for how long. Roo was a hit, and after each presentation there were a number of requests to practice proper brushing of his teeth. To help keep the audiences’ attention, visual aids such a coke bottle drained of its soda and refilled with the amount of sugar it contains, and equipment used to clean teeth at a dental office. Audience participation was used as to demonstrate the importance of flossing, as we asked for volunteers to be pretend teeth by standing next to each other. We wedged tennis balls between them to be pretend sugar and cavity bugs, and used a jump rope to “floss” the excess sugar we were unable to get just by brushing. The children loved the demonstration and giggled as the tennis balls fell to the floor.
Without question, there was a need for this type of preventative education at the schools we visited. The children were quick to ask questions such as “why do my teeth fall out?” and “where can I buy floss?” After the classes we were able to distribute dental Kits, which contained a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste. The children were extremely excited to receive the gifts, and eager to share their newfound knowledge with their brothers and sisters at home.
This was also a good way to introduce ourselves to these schools, as we feel that there is a need to schedule the dental van with them in the future. We look forward to other presentations scheduled in April. We feel encouraged by the success of these clinics, and look forward to scheduling many more in the future.
Story by Tim Schneider