My Shiny Teeth and Me

Mark Dresel | Staff Writer

Photo by Jesse Lo

Photo by Jesse Lo

“One, two, three, and four” she proclaims softly, tapping the top of her teeth with a small finger. “Mommy!  I have 22 because I’m missing these two, see?”  This scene is being played out all over the United States.  It’s both a time of extreme happiness for parents, and a not-so-friendly reminder that if they want to keep their children smiling, they will need to go without for a few months.  This is a dilemma faced throughout the nation by underprivileged and immigrant families who want to make sure their children have the best start in life.

Photo by Jesse Lo

Photo by Jesse Lo

The small school was filled with young children, all donning a similar evergreen shirt watched carefully as two of Century’s students demonstrated proper brushing techniques on what must have seemed like a giant’s dentures.  They jumped at the chance to feel the prop as the students interacted one on one with the small children. The kids nodded along as the students told them that too much soda would make their teeth “icky”.  Enthralled by the fun animations, the children were eager to learn and ask questions about their teeth and discover how to help fight the germs. In the end, all the children received a free toothbrush and floss to practice the skills they just learned at home.

Many of these families are forced to go without proper dental care for their children. However, some people in our community are starting to change that. Since 2006, The Community Dental Care organization (CDC) has been providing outreach programs to low-income and underprivileged families throughout the Twin Cities and Rochester area.  They help provide free oral hygiene instruction, dental care products, and even seal children’s teeth at no cost to their parents.

This year, Dr. Colonna’s, a professor here at century whom teaches dental assisting said that students were honored when the CDC ask them to present oral hygiene instructions to 323 elementary age children at the College Prep Elementary located in St. Paul. After which, The CDC would place sealants on the children’s teeth at a later date.  The students were grouped into teams and all were allowed freedom in presenting these children with ways to take better care of their teeth.

Photo by Jesse Lo

Photo by Jesse Lo

This event was great and everyone at the event benefited from it.  The children learned how bad soda can be for your teeth, but they also learned which food and drinks are really good for their teeth. Dr.Colonna added “it’s important that we give them proper dental hygiene instructions. It’s huge because it sets the framework for them throughout the rest of their lives” The children came out of these presentations equipped to improve not only their own oral health care, but their families’ and friend’s too.

The students from Century were able to practice part of their trade outside of the classroom, ensuring a better start once they graduate. Not only that, they also got to get their names out there in the community and with the CDC to peruse a career after they graduate.

The teeth of these students were given a shiny white new future, and hopefully the lessons that our students thought with them will stay a lifetime.