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Kids riled up about ... dental hygiene?

By KBell
Jan. 21, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.

Smith Elementary School students gaze at a toothbrush provided to them by the Masonic Children and Family Services of Texas.

TIPS FOR HEALTHY TEETH

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.Get a new toothbrush at least every three months.Use small, circular motions and short back and forth motions when brushing.Fluoride toothpaste will protect teeth from decay.Brush your tongue for fresher breath.Teeth should be brushed twice a day, and older kids should floss daily.Use a string of floss that's 18-inches long, and wrap the pieces around the middle finger of each hand.Gently floss between teeth and the gumline, sliding floss up and down.See the dentist twice a year.Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

"Oohs" and "aahs" escaped between toothy smiles as Smith Elementary School students were shown what was inside the dozens of plastic white bags before them.

Floss earned a few murmurs. A new toothbrush, even more. Then there was the two-minute, teeth-cleaning timer, which had the kids clapping with excitement.

Turns out, kids get pretty riled up about dental hygiene.

The Masonic Children and Family Services of Texas provided the dental kits to Crossroads students for the second year in a row, sending hundreds of kids home with a brand new pouch full of goodies for their teeth.

"We're just doing something for our community," said Glenn Mize, secretary for Goliad Masonic Lodge No. 94. "Some kids never owned their own toothbrush. Hopefully we'll get them on the right road ... to dental care."

The Masons' mission is on board with others in the area that seek to provide proper dental services, particularly to kids.

The Victoria County Health Department provides cleanings, X-rays, fillings, root canals, crowns and more to 4- to 21-year-olds who have Medicaid dental coverage.

Also, Whitley Mobile Dental Clinic, a traveling dentist's office, offers low-cost, comprehensive dental care and accepts Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

In the past three years, the clinic has traveled to schools all over the Crossroads and has served more than 4,000 patients, said Jacqui Hyden, the Victoria-area director.

The clinic tries to see each student every six months, and Hyden said students hardly succumb to the stereotypical, dreaded dentist fear.

"We can pull teeth, and the next day they're grabbing you in the hallway and asking, 'Can we come back?'" Hyden said. "We make them feel important, we emphasize how good it is, and next time we see them, it's like, 'Way to go, high five, no cavities.'"

Cavities were way scarier than the dentist any day, students at Smith Elementary School said after receiving their dental kits and hearing a presentation from the school nurse, Cheryl Gabriel.

"If you eat candy, you can get a cavity if you don't brush your teeth before bed," said 6-year-old Dylan Chavez.

Cavities are bad news, he and another first-grader, Karlyssa Ellis, agreed.

"The dentist has to drill a hole in it," Dylan said.

"And put some stuff in it," Karlyssa added.

They may not know the particulars, but thanks to their new dental kits, they know a little bit more about how long and how often to brush and floss in order to avoid cavities.

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