Children given advice on proper dental care
James, 4, brushes Leo the Lion�'s teeth with instructions from Dawn Kubinski, Exanded Functions dental assistant, during Fort Leonard Wood�'s Dental Activity visit to the Child Development Center Feb. 21.

When a Fort Leonard Wood Dental Activity Team recently talked to a preschool class about oral hygiene, the tooth fairy was a hot topic -- but for professionals, dental health is about more than lost pearly whites under pillows.

"As dental providers, we hear 'Oh, it's just a baby tooth, they'll lose it anyway,' all too often. Deciduous or 'baby' teeth are in fact very important in that they hold the space for the permanent teeth," said Capt. Abby Boschert, Harper Dental Clinic dentist.

The Fort Leonard Wood Dental Activity teams are extra busy this month for Children's Dental Health Month.

"Fort Leonard Wood DENTAC wanted to dedicate extra time this month to promote the importance of good oral hygiene and proper diet in the overall oral health of children. This is important for adults as well, however, caries -- dental decay and cavities -- is the number-one childhood disease, and it is entirely preventable," Boschert said. "By instilling good oral hygiene practices in children at a young age, we not only hope to see less decay, but we want to carry good oral hygiene into adulthood as well."

So far, the post's DENTAC teams have already visited Thayer and Partridge Elementary, the Bruce C. Clarke Library and the Child Development Center. A team is scheduled to be at Wood Elementary tomorrow.

Spc. Brandon Zimmer, dental hygienist, said he enjoys meeting with the youngsters and hopes a little flossing and brushing help now might keep these youngsters out of his exam chair when they are adults.

"I usually see adult Soldiers all day, so this is fun. If we teach them now, we can prevent them from needed expensive dental work, dentures and possibly braces in the future," Zimmer said. "I like interacting with these kids. They have really bright minds and are very enthusiastic."

One of the preschool students Zimmer talked to at the Child Development Center was 5-year-old, Madeline.

Madeline was particularly interested in the presentation, because she said she wants to be a "doggy dentist doctor" when she grows up.

"They know about lots of teeth," she said about the dental team.

"If you don?'t brush and floss your teeth they will turn really brown and fall out. If there is food stuck in your teeth and you can?'t get it out with your nail, you have to use the floss," she added.

In addition to teaching proper flossing and brushing techniques, Boschert said the dental teams also like to talk to the children about soft drinks and energy drinks.

"These drinks are often loaded with sugars and acids. Although the diet drinks may not have the sugar, they certainly still have the acids," the dentist said. "Some soft drinks have a pH of about two, which is not much different than the pH of battery acid."

The American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry recommend that the ideal time for a child to see a dentist is six months after the first tooth erupts, or by 1 year of age.

"We recommend you take your children every six months thereafter. This is a great opportunity to develop a relationship with a provider and have your child get used to visiting the dental office," Boschert said.

Page last updated Fri February 28th, 2014 at 09:42