If you could go back and instill one good habit in your 10-year-old self, what would it be? Would you practice your free throws every day after school? Read for at least 10 minutes each night before bed? Or maybe make sure that you brushed your teeth twice a day, every day?
I am a dental professional with over 30 years of experience working as a dental hygienist, and I’ve also held positions as a teacher, supervisor, and monitor in school. Working with students, the thought came to mind to introduce children to dental hygiene education, care, and treatment at an early age, helping them form healthy habits from the start.
On November 30, 2015, I began “Dental Hygiene Awareness Day” at Downey Christian School in Orlando, Florida, with my colleague, April Porter, a dental assistant. Our goal was to make students aware of how their oral health contributes to their bodies’ total health – a subject not much emphasized in school books – and also make dental hygiene treatment readily accessible in school.
With the support of the principal, April and I visited classes from kindergarten through 12th grade for 10 minutes each, and we introduced students to dental hygiene care.
We brought along boxes full of supplies donated by Henry Schein Cares Foundation and wore red Henry Schein Cares T-shirts that said we were “Helping Health Happen.” We gave each student their own toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste.
We conveyed oral hygiene instructions in ways to make them simple and understandable for each grade level. For the kindergarteners through 3rd graders, we even brought a stuffed toy Humpty Dumpty with his toothbrush in his hand to emphasize the importance of teeth brushing.
As we helped teach children about oral hygiene throughout the day, we also sent them home with a special note to parents and guardians: permission slips for children to receive dental hygiene treatments at school. Out of the 400 slips sent home, the majority came back with positive replies from parents wanting their children to receive dental hygiene care and treatment at school. We’re now all very excited to establish a dental hygiene clinic on the school premises!
In conclusion, I give special thanks to Henry Schein Cares Foundation for the donated supplies to students who were so happy with their toothbrushes! I also thank the principal for his support with this event. Lastly, I thank my colleague, April, who helped me make this day a successful event.
by Florita Robinson RDH