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NBHC dental staff offers CDC scholars hands-on demo

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | March 23, 2015


Naval Dental Clinic, co-located within the Naval Branch Health Clinic, Albany at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, provided an unusual learning environment for roughly 15 students from the installation’s Child Development Center, here, recently.

In observance and celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, the CDC transported a group of their students to the clinic to allow them to experience, firsthand, some of the sights and sounds they may expect during their scheduled dental visits.

According to Christine Watson, dental assistant, Naval Branch Dental Clinic, the students’ field trip was designed to demonstrate some of the equipment they may see and/or hear in their own dentist’s office.

“(February) is the National Dental Health Month,” Watson said. “We have the CDC’s preschoolers and the pre-K coming in on a field trip so that they can explore. They’re coming in because many times children don’t have their first dental visit until they are in school when, in reality, they’re actually supposed to have it between eight months and one year when their first teeth come in.”

Students counted-off in groups of three each; divided into two teams; those left in the waiting room used crayons to color their masterpieces, while six were ushered into one of two examination rooms to begin their hands-on experiment with various dental instruments.

Each child got a lift in the dental chair; watched the angling and swiveling of overhead lamps and listened to the slurping sounds made by the saliva injector as the cup filled with water, which they held, was being slowly suctioned out.

Watson said she hopes the field trip will help to increase the children’s level of comfort and reduce some of the fears and anxieties these young patients may actually encounter in future dental appointments.

“So, this is just to give them the experience of a dental office so that they are at ease when they go in with their mommy and daddy,” Watson added. “(Hopefully), they can say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this before.’ We just want it to be a fun experience for them.”

As a treat for participating in the annual event, each CDC student received a “Treat Bag” filled with a mouth mirror, a toothbrush, tooth paste and a sticker.

National Children’s Dental Health Month began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 3, 1941, according to the American Heart Association’s website: http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month/.

The ADA held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949.  The single-day observance became a weeklong event in 1955. In 1981, the program was extended to a month-long observance known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month, the website further documents.