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National Children's Dental Health Month
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Harris, 36th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight dental hygienist, explains the importance of good oral hygiene to children at Andersen Elementary School Feb. 15, 2013. The dental flight provided small group presentations to more than 800 children at the school as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month, observed annually in February. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adarius Petty/Released)
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Dental Airmen educate base children on oral hygiene

Posted 2/19/2013   Updated 2/20/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White
36th Wing Public Affairs

2/19/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Members of the 36th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight educated children on oral hygiene at Andersen Elementary School in mid-February.

The dental flight provided small group presentations about the importance of dental care to more than 800 children at the school. The presentations occurred during a three-day span this month, which is also observed annually as National Children's Dental Health Month.

"It's important to educate them about dental health because the earlier they start a habit, the more likely they are to continue it for their whole lives," said Capt. (Dr.) Nicole Catarino, 36th MDOS Dental Flight dental officer. "We want them to learn the proper way of taking care of their teeth because we want them to keep their teeth healthy and minimize cavities."

The presentation included an array of dental decay and cavity pictures, examples of good foods and foods to avoid, as well as an interactive portion on techniques used for proper oral care. One of the demonstrations had a chosen participant practice brushing an enlarged replica of a mouth while the others observed. Another activity included three children from the audience standing closely next to each other pretending to be teeth while dental assistants simulated flossing by passing a rope between the children.

"It seems like they were really excited to be here and they were asking a lot of questions and participating," said Captain Catarino. "We emphasized a lot of key points that they already hopefully know."

At the end of the presentation, the students were given bags containing some of the necessary tools for proper oral care: toothpaste, dental floss and a toothbrush equipped with a light-up timer.

"I was really excited to get a new toothbrush ... " said Josh Seale, Kindergarten student and son of Col. Clayton Seale, 36th Maintenance Group deputy commander. "And I learned that it's good to floss and eat healthy foods so you don't get one cavity."

Captain Catarino left the groups with some parting thoughts by emphasizing the need to brush at least twice a day for two minutes. She also said it's important to see a dentist at least once a year to promote good oral hygiene and to catch cavities in their earliest stages.

Captain Catarino said parents play an important role in their child's oral health.

"Parents are the best role models," she said. "If they emphasize the importance of taking care of their teeth and take pride in it, then the children are also going to be proud of taking care of their own teeth."

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