News: Dental Squadron hosts 'Little Teeth - Big Smiles' Clinic
Story by Yasuo Osakabe
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - The month of February marks National Children's Dental Health Month across the U.S., and airmen at Yokota Air Base, Japan, honored the occasion with Little Teeth and Big Smiles.
Members from the Yokota Dental Clinic invited children, up to 10 years old, to attend a walk-in dental clinic, Feb. 2, 2013, which offered dental examinations, teeth cleanings and educational materials teaching children the fundamentals of oral hygiene through visual aids.
"This marked the first time for this event to take place at Yokota,” said Staff Sgt. Amanda Colavolpe, a 374th Dental Squadron dental technician. “We were able to provide preventive services for 80 children in the Yokota community and their parents seemed so responsive and appreciative of the services they received.”
The 374 DS focused on preventive oral health care for children.
"Dental caries (cavities) is the most chronic infectious disease affecting young children,” said Capt. Kathrina Carrasco, a 374 DS dentist. “It is important for children to see a dentist regularly, with their first dental examination around their first birthday."
To assist parents with caring for their children’s teeth yearlong, Carrasco gave participants a few tips:
1. Healthy diet, along with a daily brushing and flossing routine, are vital in preventing dental cavities. Limit the intake of sugary and acidic foods and drinks, such as soda and juice.
2. Proper oral hygiene begins even before the first tooth erupts, by gently wiping the gums after feedings. Once the baby teeth erupt, parents can start using a toothbrush to clean the teeth. When all the baby teeth have erupted it is recommended that parents help their children brush for two minutes, twice per day. Daily flossing is also recommended to help keep the areas in between the teeth clean.
By participating in dental health month, parents and children are educated on good oral health habits. Proper brushing, flossing, diet and regular dental check-ups will help children retain healthy teeth and attractive smiles for many years.
“It was our goal to provide a valuable community service targeting education and prevention of dental disease while providing the Yokota military community an ancillary avenue to seek dental care,” Colavolpe said. “We believe this goal was achieved."
“It was a very productive and rewarding experience for all,” she added.