Thanks to Links for outreach

Published 11:06 pm Thursday, February 25, 2016

The reasons some kids don’t go to the dentist as often as they should can run the gamut from the family’s financial situation to families that are just so busy that it’s hard to find time for preventive care, so they don’t visit the dentist until something goes wrong.

That’s why outreaches like the one conducted at Booker T. Washington Elementary School on Wednesday are so important.

The Suffolk Chapter of The Links Inc., in partnership with Colgate and the Obici Healthcare Foundation, brought the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures van to the school and screened about 150 students whose parents had signed a permission slip. The Hampton Roads Community Health Center also provided screenings.

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The atmosphere was less intimidating than a dentist’s office, and the exam didn’t include any of the normal stuff that might be scary and painful to a child.

Instead, there was just a friendly dental professional taking a look with a tongue depressor. Each child got a report card that alerted parents to current or potential problems.

Luckily for parents whose children need dental care soon, the report cards for those students included the names of dentists and orthodontists who have agreed to partner with the outreach to provide follow-up care.

The really important part of the event, though, was the education that students received on how to take care of their mouths. A presentation for the students featured a demonstration on how to brush and floss — complete with a tooth mascot and a giant toothbrush — and information on which foods are healthy and unhealthy for their teeth.

The children also got a chart where they can keep track of how often they brush, a free toothbrush and toothpaste, and a timer to show them how long to brush.

Thanks to the Suffolk Chapter of The Links Inc., one of whose members, Dr. Gloria Johnson-Spruiell, was one of the dental professionals doing the screening, students who need care now will be able to get it at no cost, and all of the students are better informed about how to keep their mouths healthier.

We applaud The Links and the Obici Healthcare Foundation for their important community service in bringing the Colgate van to town. We look forward to more future success.