NEWS | Feb. 16, 2018

Brushing up on dental hygiene

By Senior Airman Tenley Long Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

According to the Office of the Surgeon General, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dentistry conditions. As an alternative, the 628th Medical Group Dental Clinic brings dentists to the school. The clinic uses February, National Children’s Dental Health Month, as an opportunity to reach out to various elementary schools to provide healthy oral hygiene information to students.

“Children want to do the best they can, but they don’t exactly have all of the information or right tools just yet,” said Staff Sgt. Kayla Ferguson, 628th MDG Dental Clinic oral preventative assistant. “We make things as simple as possible when teaching them what they need to do to take care of their teeth. They are in a transition where they’re going from being told by their parents how to take care of themselves to learning how to do it for themselves.”

One way the clinic accomplishes this is through a fairytale-like skit written by Patrick Miller, 628th MDG Dental Clinic chief of preventative dentistry. In the skit, ‘Mr. Tooth’ is not exactly the cleanest tooth in the land, however he strives to be. He just doesn’t know how to do it, yet. With the help of two other characters in the short play, toothbrush and floss, ‘Mr. Tooth’ learns how to take care of himself one step at a time.

“This month we focus on reaching out to the children within the community to spread the knowledge of the importance of tooth brushing and flossing,” Miller said. “We deliver the message in one-on-one conversation, but I think it’s more interactive and interesting when you can put on a dance theme or a play. I think this is very effective and a powerful tool. The kids see it and interact with us.”

Dental professionals use technical language and medical terminology. However, when doing this skit, the team speaks to the children in a way they can understand.

“If we can establish healthy habits at a young age and get them familiar with the proper habits of brushing and flossing, eating healthy and really taking care of themselves, their overall health is going to benefit,” Miller explained. “If we can inspire them with fun activites like today, it really sets that foundation for moving forward.”

The dental clinic kicked off their presentation at Marrington Elementary School, and are scheduled to present their skit at Lambs Elementary and Hunley Park Elementary schools later this month. The clinic hopes to help approximately 1,000 students brush up on healthy oral hygiene.