Edwards dental staff delivers oral hygiene tips to base students

Air Force photograph by Kenji Thuloweit

Maj. Tonya Barry, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, shows a Branch Elementary School first grader how to brush teeth properly during a visit to the school March 1. February was National Children’s Dental Health Month.

In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, eight dentists and assistants of the Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Dental Clinic provided some education to 416 preschoolers, first graders and second graders at the Child Development Center Feb. 23 and at Branch Elementary School March 1.

Education efforts included interactive presentations on hygiene, learning stations and questions from eager little ones. After both presentations, dental swag bags were distributed containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, coloring books, crayons and stickers with a powerful message–prevention is key.

February was National Children’s Dental Health Month, which is a month-long celebration focused on raising awareness about the importance of oral health in children. This year’s national campaign slogan is “Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile.”

Master Sgt. Christina Harper, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Dental Flight chief, shows Branch Elementary School students an egg submerged in soda to demonstrate how sugar can break down tooth enamel if not properly cleaned.

With prevention in mind, below are a few tips from the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics to maximize a child’s healthy smile:
* For babies, after each feeding, wipe the gums clean with a wet washcloth or gauze
* Start dental visits by the first birthday and visit the dentist regularly
* Children younger than 3 years old should cleanse teeth with a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice)
* Children 3-6 years old may brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
* Children should spit out toothpaste when they are old enough to do so
* Brush teeth twice a day, never skip bedtime brushing (most critical)
* Floss teeth once a day when at least two teeth start to touch (bedtime is best)
* Parents are encouraged to help children brush and floss (they need assistance until age 6 or 7 and often still require supervision until age 10 or 11)
* Ask your dentist about sealants for school-age children
* Provide healthy snacks between meals
* Limit juice to 4-6 ounces for children ages 1-6

Unfortunately, Edwards Dental Clinic only has the capacity to treat active duty members, however, anyone can visit http://www.tricare.mil/dental/ to learn more about the TRICARE Dental Program and its benefits.  

The Oral Hygiene Fairy, played by Capt. Josephine Nguyen, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron general dentist, gives dental tips to students at Branch Elementary March 1. Members of the 412th Medical Group dropped by the school as part of their recognition of National Children’s Dental Health Month.


Tech. Sgt. Robert Penn, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, discusses bad and good oral hygiene habits in front of Branch Elementary first graders March 1.