CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Feb. 29, 2016) -- Soldiers from U.S. Army Dental Activity Japan promoted oral health to children at Arnn Elementary on the Sagamihara Family Housing Area installation Feb. 24-26 in observance of National Children's Dental Health Month.

NCDHM is a monthlong, national health campaign led by the American Dental Association that calls for thousands of dental professionals, healthcare providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, according to www.ada.org.

"Tooth decay is the most chronic disease in children, but it's preventable," said Maj. Demarcio Reed, commander of DENTAC-J and comprehensive dentist. "That's why it's so important we bring awareness to these students on practicing good oral health."

Reed and other DENTAC-J Soldiers met with more than 400 students at Arnn to conduct dental screenings and educate them on how to maintain good dental hygiene.

Capt. James Lee, general dentist assigned to DENTAC-J, demonstrated to the children how to properly brush their teeth, using a toothbrush and dental model.

"Sixty percent of children will have experienced cavities by age 5," said Lee. "Our goal is to reduce that number."

Spc. Qwameshia Plummer, preventive dentistry specialist assigned to DENTAC-J who showed the students how to properly floss their teeth, said a lack of flossing is one of the biggest challenges she sees in children, which can result in tooth decay or gum disease.

The students also watched an animated video presentation that emphasized the importance of developing good, oral health habits - such as brushing, flossing, rinsing and eating healthy snacks - at an early age for healthier teeth and gums.

"Sometimes we forget to brush our teeth," said Naomi Taylor, sixth-grader at Arnn, "but we should brush our teeth every day so we can have a better smile."

Jordyn Pafford, sixth-grader at Arnn, said he learned he should brush his teeth twice a day for at least two minutes and floss at least once day.

"If you don't keep your teeth clean, you will lose them," he said.

Reed said many children are afraid of the dentist but engaging and interacting with them via school visits help put them at ease for their dental appointments.

After the dental presentation, each group of students received a goody bag, which included a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, toys, stickers and educational information on oral health.