Students open up for dental hygiene

 

By Stephanie Martin and
Kevin Spradlin

PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — The odds were stacked against Margaret Hooper.

All she had to do was to keep the attention of more than 470 students — from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade — at Monroe Avenue Elementary School for a 30-minute presentation on the importance of dental hygiene. It’s a topic of immense immediate interest to children that age. No problem, right?

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Students line up outside the Colgate mobile dental clinic Thursday at Monroe Avenue Elementary School.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Students line up outside the Colgate mobile dental clinic Thursday at Monroe Avenue Elementary School.

Hooper, with Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program and a veteran of such impossible odds, pulled from her bag of tricks. Making funny faces, making fun of stinky breath and using a toy alligator proved to be a winning combination.

With such a wide range of ages in her audience, Hooper stuck to the basics: brush at least twice a day, two minutes each time. A dab’ll do ya, she said. The amount of toothpaste needed each time is “about the size of an English pea,” she said. “Just a very small amount.”

After brushing your teeth, brush your tongue, Hooper guided. And don’t forget to floss.

At bedtime, Hooper said it’s okay to put a glass of water by the bed but to avoid post-brushing milk or juice. Dental hygiene starts with forming smart, healthy habits.

She walked around with a glass partially filled with a diet cola. With the cola was an egg shell. Over a short period of time, the cola — with its sugar and acid — had done a number to stain the once pure-white shell.

Within her audience, Hooper said, “I know a lot of you like chocolate milk, but you know what? We have to start making good choices.”

She suggested that instead of snacking on a jelly bean, choose a carrot or an apple.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Margaret Hooper tells students that one result of failing to brush your tongue is stinky breath.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Margaret Hooper tells students that one result of failing to brush your tongue is stinky breath.

After Hooper’s talk and a short “Tooth Defender” cartoon in the school gymnasium, students filed out by class to the Colgate bus and mobile dental clinic parked out front. The majority of students’ parents consented to allow their children to receive a free screening by an area dentist.

“This is a great opportunity for the kids,” said Principal Dawn Terry, noting that taking care of health concerns is a foundation to a successful learning environment.

Terry said that these screenings are important for her students because “when we feel our best, we learn at our best.”

After the screenings, students were given dental care packages that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, a report card from their screening and other dental care tools.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A diet cola can wreak havoc on a set of teeth, much like the soda in this glass jar has tarnished the vibrant white egg shell in only a few hours' time.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A diet cola can wreak havoc on a set of teeth, much like the soda in this glass jar has tarnished the vibrant white egg shell in only a few hours’ time.

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Hamlet, Health, Latest Headlines, News

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