October is National Dental Hygiene Month and the Seventh-Day Adventist Dental Clinic is once again at the forefront of raising awareness about the importance of oral health via presentations to public and private school students.
Lori Serna, SDA dental hygienist, initiated the educational campaign at the Saipan SDA School in San Antonio yesterday.
Equipped with her tooth fairy accessories, a toothbrush, and a mouth prop, Serna demonstrated to students from kindergarten to eighth grade the proper way of brushing teeth and how proper brushing and regular flossing contribute to oral hygiene care.
Serna said the SDA Dental Clinic puts out articles in newspapers, messages on billboards, and visits various schools to heighten awareness on the issue of oral health that, “unfortunately, affects children in particular since they don’t have the same voice or the same presence as grownups.”
“The problem becomes much more involved than that,” said Serna. Children who suffer from toothaches have difficulty sleeping, eating, and even paying attention in class. “It really impacts a lot of their quality time.”
Serna said the role of parents on their children’s oral health is “critical.”
“Just because they can hold a pencil does not mean that they have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth. As parents, you have to follow up ‘til they’re about 9 or 10 years old. Guide them,” she said.
According to Serna, following up on children ensures proper brushing of critical areas in the mouth “which are the top of the teeth and on the insides.”
“Where your tongue rests, especially on the back side, that is where I find 99 percent of the plaque on kids who come to the clinic,” she revealed.
Serna also emphasized the importance of flossing. “For every area that you don’t floss, you’re looking at two cavities. For every area that you floss, you just saved two teeth or two surfaces.”
The dental hygienist underscored the negative impact of eating candies—particularly hard candies—since these candies contain a lot of sugar, which is bad for the teeth.
“For every second that sugar is in your mouth, bacteria has the open opportunity to poop in the mouth and teeth and make cavity,” said Serna.
With the day for trick-or-treating drawing near, Serna said there are “smart ways” to deal with children who want candies or chocolates for Halloween, including having them with a meal and not in between meals, giving them in “ideal” portions, and following it up with water “always.”
“Just being wise about those things makes a huge difference,” she added.
For the month of October, SDA Dental Clinic will be giving away free dental exams for children up to 16 years old. Free toothbrushes and dental flosses will also be given away at the clinic and outreach presentations.
“No walk-ins. Just call, make an appointment, and we’ll see them. We’ll have a dentist and we’ll answer all questions,” said Serna, adding that they will provide tips tailored specifically to each patient.
To make an appointment or for more information, call 234-6323.