Almost every hand went up when the first-graders at Bunker Hill Elementary (BHE) were asked if they had lost any baby, or primary, teeth yet! Several reported having loose teeth just ready to fall out.
Dr. Amita Damani, a dental hygienist and several dental technicians from the Pediatric Dental Safari Memorial City office came to the school to talk to kindergarten and first grade students about why teeth are important (needed for eating, talking and smiling!), and demonstrated how to take care of them.
“February is Children’s Dental Health Awareness month,” said Dr. Damani, who is also a Bunker Hill parent. She explained to the students that the purpose of primary teeth is to save space in the mouth for when the permanent teeth come in, so it is important to keep both primary and permanent teeth healthy.
An appearance by the tooth fairy was a big hit with the kids during the morning presentations. The dental office team also played a couple of games to emphasize which foods are, or are not, good for teeth, and read the students a story titled Melvin the Magnificent Molar.
Dr. Damani also stressed keeping teeth safe during play and participation sports.
“Scrapes on your knees will heal themselves, but teeth cannot heal from a break,” dental assistant Tiffany Allen said.
Allen told the students to brush their teeth twice a day, and sing the Happy Birthday song twice to equal about two minutes per brushing. The hygienist demonstrated how to brush and floss around each tooth.
Each student received a packet with a new toothbrush, toothpaste and floss courtesy of the Pediatric Dental Safari clinic.
Celia Douthit, school nurse at Bunker Hill, explained that her role at school is an important one. Behind the scenes a few of the things a school nurse does is to maintain current immunization records for each child, teach health related classes, and preform state-required wellness screenings.
She and teachers noticed more instances of decay in their students’ teeth this year. This prompted Douthit to invite the dental team to the school to impress upon the kids the importance of caring for their teeth.
Over 200 BHE students had parent permissions to receive a general dental exam from Dr. Damani and team during their visit to the school. An overall oral health report was prepared for each student’s family to review. If there were teeth of concern, she circled them on a drawing of the mouth on the report, so the family’s own dentist could do a more in-depth check-up.
The friendly group from Pediatric Dental Safari Memorial office tries to help kids, and their parents, to not be nervous about going to the dentist for twice-a-year check-ups. Their safari-themed offices in Memorial and Katy create fun environments for their patients.
And their cheerful presentations and services at BHE helped students to know what a visit to the dentist will be like, including having water or air sprayed into their mouths.
“It makes kind of a funny noise,” said a dental assistant, to prepare the students for the noises during an exam.
“I feel like if we give a kid a good experience at the beginning, it can go a long way,” said Dr. Damani.
Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications