Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany --
Children enjoy visiting the dentist as much as adults, right? Not if you ask pre-kindergarten kids from the Child Development Center at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany who visited the Dental Health Clinic Feb. 26.
They listened attentively as a children’s book based on Dora the Explorer was read to them, and they swarmed over the chairs in the operatories at the dental clinic during a guided tour with the dental staff.
“February is children’s dental health month so we organized a presentation for the Child Development Center kids. We have a Barney video, we’re going to read a story and we’ll teach them brushing techniques. They also get to tour the clinic,” said Kimberly Hanniford, dental assistant, Dental Health Clinic. “They will see the chair, the light, and x-rays of teeth to help familiarize them with the setting,” she added. “The visit is designed to reduce anxiety the children may have with the unfamiliar setting. We want the kids to come in and see the office,” she said.
The children received a goody-bag during their visit, but it wasn’t packed with candy and sweets.
It contained a mouth mirror and tooth saver in which baby teeth can be saved when they come out.
“These kids are at the age where they’re losing their baby teeth, so the tooth saver will let them hang onto those teeth if they want to,” said Hanniford.
The CDC requests a dental clinic visit every year in conjunction with children’s dental health month. “The kids normally have a great time when they come here,” said HM1 Class Dewel Jamerson, clinical services leading petty officer.
“They tour the dental area and sit in the dental chairs while the dental assistants and dentist talk to them,” said Jamerson who claims to have never had cavities in his teeth, thanks to a lifetime of good brushing habits and few sweets.
Children of active duty military personnel, even at the pre-kindergarten level, have probably already seen a dentist before they arrive for the Dental Health Month visit. “The American Dental Association generally recommends that a child visit a dentist by age one,” said Navy dental officer, Capt. William Butt. “Usually the kids’ appointments are simple and unsophisticated. They become familiar with the equipment we use. They’ve probably had their teeth professionally cleaned by this (pre-K) age, and if parents are diligent about daily tooth brushing, most don’t have many problems,” he added.
Children aren’t shy about asking questions concerning dentistry and Butt has heard them all.
“They want to know how many teeth they have, will it hurt, what’s your favorite toothpaste, what’s your favorite food, what kind of snacks can I have? The kind of things you’d expect to hear from kids,” he added.
Butt said the last time he worked with young children was 10 years ago when stationed on Okinawa.
Since he works mostly with active duty personnel, the average age of “kids” he now treats are 20-plus years old.
“Though dependents are not eligible for care at the clinic, we
are able to offer second opinions of civilian treatment plans, screening prior to moving overseas and humanitarian emergency care. If a child were to have a severe infection or trauma (like knocking out a tooth), a parent could bring them to the clinic. In most cases, I’d immediately refer them to a civilian children’s specialist,” said the dental officer.
CDC staff who accompanied the group to the clinic reported the children were excited about a private tour. “Even though most of the kids have been to the dentist, they’re excited about seeing the inside workings of the office, and have been asking many questions,” said Joann Prince, CDC pre-kindergarten facilitator.
Reports are that most of those questions were answered and the children really enjoyed their visit and goody-bags.
Butt added, “Accolades for today’s program go to Mrs. Kimberly Hanniford and other staff members who worked diligently to develop something fun and meaningful for the children.”