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In 2014 – 2015, the GACEC Disability Education & Awareness Program presented The Brushing for Brighter Smiles Program to preschool children ages 3-5 with roughly 300 students in attendance. In 2014 one program was done in each county. Because of requirements and popular demand, two programs were conducted in each county in 2015. Each child in the daycares and early childhood development centers went home with a goodie bag that contained a new toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, a brushing timer, a brushing record chart, sticker, dental coloring book, and information for their parents on the right way to brush teeth.
Teachers and daycare providers were given folders with oral health information to assist their oral health presentations. They also contained information to send home to the parents. The targeted population were predominantly underserved low-income children and children who have disabilities. The presentations followed the curriculum guidelines set forth by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Each presentation began with a discussion on why tooth care is so critical and was accompanied by Howard, the Puppet, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and sat in a wheelchair. Children also learned about Cerebral Palsy and how Howard might have trouble using a toothbrush because of his muscle stiffness. Students were shown an adaptive toothbrush used by children who are unable to hold an average toothbrush.
The Dental Hygienist gave a talk about how to brush teeth with an oversized toothbrush and a large model of the human mouth. She discussed going to the dentist and showed the children the tools they would see when getting their teeth cleaned. The hygienist and program coordinator interactively discussed with the children what was considered a healthy food for their teeth and foods that could cause cavities.
Students watched a short video from the American Dental Association called “Dudley Visits the Dentist.” Children loved the green dinosaur and his family, who have a pleasant experience at the dentist’s office. The video discussed the people they may meet at the dentist’s office, smells, sounds, the importance of brushing their teeth. The dental hygienist put on her mask and talked about the tools they use in the dentist’s office.
Finishing off the presentation children formed two lines. Each used the giant toothbrush to demonstrate how they use their toothbrushes on the largemouth model as the hygienist and program coordinator discussed how to properly brush the teeth and tongue.
A presentation at the Dover Public Library during storytime discussed the importance of proper dental care with parents, while their children colored in “There’s Nothing to Fear” coloring book based on a trip to the dentist. When finished talking with the parents, a demonstration was given to children, they shared the favorite picture they colored, and they and their parents went home with goodie bags.
Early childhood oral health presentations were made possible by grants from the Bureau of Oral Health at Public Health in the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). Tom’s of Maine donated toothpaste for all the children and parents.
The coloring book “There’s Nothing to Fear” was developed for the GACEC’s Early Childhood Disability Education & Awareness Program. Kristen Ball, a former Polytech High School student, researched, designed, and was the artist for the coloring book. DelCastle Technical High School did the printing.