By Cannoneer staffMarch 1, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- A team from the Fort Sill Dental Activity gave hands-on presentations to preschoolers about the importance of dental hygiene as part of February's National Children's Dental Health Month.
Six dentists, who are in the Comanche Advanced Education in Dentistry program 1-year, spoke at Fort Sill's child development centers Feb. 23, and talked to 3- and 4-year-olds about brushing, flossing and how foods can affect teeth. They were accompanied by a dental hygienist and Spc. Jennifer Treat, Dental Clinic No. 2 acting noncommissioned officer in charge.
"We want to promote dental health as early as possible, so that children can have a healthy smile and a healthy life because overall health is connected to oral health," said Treat.
Capt. Akeele Johnson, dental resident, said early intervention is important in dental health.
"When you start teaching them the right foods to eat and how to take care of their teeth, children will be less likely to have cavities when they get older," said Johnson, who plans to some day work in pediatric dentistry.
Speaking in terms youngsters could understand, the dentists talked about "sugar bugs" from sweets and how they can cause cavities.
Children squealed "eww" and "yuck" as they handled a training aid of decayed, discolored teeth called "Mr. Gross Mouth." The chompers depicted what could happen if people don't take care of their teeth.
Using puppets and props, the dentists showed how to brush teeth, and then they handed the toothbrushes over to the children to practice on the puppets. The dentists also showed how to floss and discussed what foods are good for teeth.
Capt. Chris Luevano was one of the residents who presented.
"It's good to get kids energized and motivated about dental care at a young age, and catch dental problems before they get too big," Luevano said.
At the end of each presentation, Treat and Moniqua Smiley, registered dental hygienist, gave the children floss, stickers and toothbrushes, which were embedded with lights that flash for two minutes -- the recommended duration for brushing teeth.