CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN
When attending elementary school, children are taught literature, grammar, mathematics and history. Brushing teeth twice a day is not a subject one would normally expect to discuss in a classroom, but that is exactly what happened at Zukeran Elementary School on Camp Foster.
Sailors from 3rd Dental Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, volunteered to visit elementary schools during the month of February to celebrate Children's Dental Health Month. The volunteers visit a different school each week of the month, teach the students about proper oral hygiene, and provide free screenings for students with signed permission slips from their parents.
The dental care providers spoke of several factors to consider when taking care of teeth, such as brushing and flossing techniques, and the effects of plaque and sugar on the teeth if left undisturbed.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Ashlynn B. Rider, a second-grade student at the school. “I really liked it when they showed us how to floss.”
The visit from the service members also served as a way to show children that going to the dentist does not need to be a source of anxiety, according to Kimberly L. Gilley, a Japanese culture teacher at the school.
“It shows the students that the dentists are just people like them,” Gilley said. “They have nothing to be afraid of, and now they can see that.”
After the presentations were finished, the children were given toothbrushes and asked questions about what they had learned.
“I love coming to these schools,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Vanessa D. Shaw, a hospital corpsman with the battalion. “They're so excited to see us, and when we ask them questions, it feels great to have them answer and show they actually learned from us.”
The efforts by the volunteers were greatly appreciated by both the teachers and students at Zukeran Elementary School.
“Organizing everything was slightly difficult,” said Navy Lt. Stephanie Moore, one of the event coordinators and a dentist with the battalion. “In the end, all of the work was worth it to see all of the children so happy to see us.”
As their visit ended, the sailors packed away the remainder of their supplies and the children went home with increased knowledge on dental care. For the hospital corpsmen who volunteered for the event, it was a complete success.
“We had a lot of fun,” said Hall. “We had the chance to interact with the children and teach them something important at the same time.”
||CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JP
This work, 3rd Dental Battalion sailors inform students on dental hygiene, by LCpl David Hersey, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.