At five years old, Jesse had never been to a dentist. His parents, Maria and Francisco, couldn’t afford one more expense with two young children and a baby on the way. Since the family has no medical insurance, they were relieved when they found out that Jesse’s preschool school offered a “Brush At Lunch” program to introduce good dental hygiene habits to children and their families.
The dental hygienists used over-sized toothbrushes and puppets to teach the children how to brush and floss properly. United Way funded dental kits that had toothbrushes, floss and a timer for the children to use. The best part for the children was getting to line up after lunch with their friends at preschool and brush their teeth. Lots of giggles and water splashing ensued as they used their new toothbrushes with puppets during the oral health-training workshop.
Jesse had his first dental exam and his parents were happy to know that only two teeth had some decay. The family was pleasantly surprised that Jesse found a new interest in brushing his teeth as the hygienist carefully demonstrated proper brushing techniques on a stuffed dragon with bright white teeth. He also read the book United Way provided about healthy teeth to his little sister.
“Jesse was petrified of going to the dentist office,” said Maria. “After he saw how easy it was and that there was no pain, he told me that he is no longer afraid of going to the dentist. As a parent, I can help all my children and our family to brush after each meal and make it fun. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to ask the hygienists questions in a relaxed environment at the preschool instead of the dentist’s office.”
The “Brush At Lunch” workshops are a great opportunity for children and adults to learn about healthy foods and habits and for parents to recognize the warning signs of poor oral health before the child is in pain.
Because oral health is also related to diet and nutrition, Jesse and his parents are also learning how to prepare easy and healthy recipes at home. Jesse has added new fruits and vegetables to the shopping list and understands that candy and sweets are only treats for special occasions.
Jesse and his sister now enjoy brushing their teeth together before they go to bed, and Jesse loves to flash his million-dollar smile even with two front teeth missing.