Pre-Dental Club starts preventative oral health education program at area schools

Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation has given Fort Hays State University's Pre-Dental Club 1,400 toothbrush kits, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, as part of the club's local preventative oral health education program.

The education program began Oct. 1 and will run through Nov. 21. The club will visit the seven elementary schools in Ellis County: Washington Elementary in Ellis; Victoria Grade School in Victoria; and Lincoln, O'Loughlin, Roosevelt, Wilson and Washington schools in Hays.

The presentation at each school will help elementary students understand the importance of oral health and careers in dentistry and related fields.

"Western Kansas has a shortage of dental providers, and it is important that young children be taught lifelong habits for good oral health," said Leigh Reynolds, Hays junior, FHSU Pre-Dental Club president.

Each school program will focus on teaching children preventative oral healthcare through four activity stations, each lasting 15 minutes.

Station No. 1 is devoted to nutrition. "We will use Oral Health Kansas' traveling sugar display to show how much sugar is within common drinks such as chocolate milk or apple juice," said Reynolds.

A model will show the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy mouth, and a display will show different diseases and conditions of the mouth.

Station No. 2 will teach basic brushing habits through the book "Dr. Rabbit Wants to Say," by Colgate. After reading the book, the children will watch "Brushing Magic with Dudley the Dinosaur."

The third station will use brushing puppets and mouth models to practice good brushing and flossing techniques.

For the last station, the students will dress up with scrubs, masks, safety goggles and gloves.

"Having the kids dress up like dentists will help us teach them why dentists dress they way they do. This time will also be used to talk to students about the different careers in dentistry such as: dentists, specialty dentists, lab technicians, dental assistants, and dental hygienists," said Reynolds.

To gauge the success of the program, the children will be sent home with a weeklong brushing chart and those who complete it will be rewarded with a toy.

"Currently, the only way most of the schools teach proper oral health is when they celebrate Dental Health Month in February and they watch a short demonstrational video on how to brush and floss," said Reynolds. "Our presentation will be much more interactive and comprehensive."

For more information, contact Reynolds at 785-259-7102.

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