CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 6, 2017) - U.S. Army Dental Health Activity-Japan Soldiers visited Arnn Elementary School Feb. 28 - March 2 to educate 378 students on good oral health in observance of National Children's Dental Health Month.
Capt. James Lee, general dentist assigned to DENTAC-Japan and event organizer, said NCDHM is a month-long observance in February promoting the benefits of dental care to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.
"Prevention is key," said Lee. "We focus on why it's important to brush and how healthy teeth play a role in nutrition and self-esteem."
DENTAC-Japan Soldiers conducted presentations and hands-on activities with small groups of students throughout each day, promoting brushing, flossing, rinsing, and eating healthy snacks for healthier teeth and gums.
Then, the children received oral health screenings.
Maj. Andrew Baker, orthodontist and officer-in-charge assigned to DENTAC-Japan, said children often associate going to the dentist with pain, but events like these focus on preventive care and creating positive experiences help reduce those perceptions.
"If we catch things early, we can do much more conservative, less invasive procedures as opposed to waiting until something is painful," Baker said.
The students also watched an animated video presentation that emphasized the importance of developing good, oral health habits at an early age for healthier teeth and gums.
"You can't eat a lot of sweet stuff or your teeth might change color," said Jasmine Bryant, 6, first-grader at Arnn.
David Pippen, 11, sixth-grader at Arnn, said he learned that it is important to take care of your teeth with good brushing and flossing and healthy eating habits so you do not lose them.
"We need our teeth for eating and talking," said Pippen. "I want my teeth!"
After the dental care sessions, each group of students received a goody bag, which included a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, toys, stickers, and educational information for oral health.