Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 05 Dental Associates 360 200

These dental assistants make a difference explaining oral health to children

May 8, 2015
Every year the dental assistants and hygienists from Dental Associates in Wisconsin visit children in schools and daycare centers to talk to them about the importance of taking care of their teeth. The children love to see them coming.
Meg Kaiser, Associate Editor

Dental assistants from Dental Associates’ clinics in Wisconsin enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to promote children’s dental health recently, as they visited daycare centers, YMCAs, preschools, and elementary schools throughout the state to teach children the importance of caring for their teeth.

Kristy Green-Prokopovitz, left, and Crystal Steinbrecher, dental assistants with Dental Associates in Green Bay, visit with first graders at Meadowbrook School in Howard, Wisconsin.

During the past 28 years, the initiative, which is conducted during Children’s Dental Health Month, has grown to become part of the Dental Associates’ culture.

“Our commitment to the program began in 1987 when we had just two dental practices, and today we have 12,” explained Thomas Manos, DDS, MS, owner and president of Dental Associates. “The company wants to conduct outreach in underserved communities, so dental assistants and hygienists visit area schools to teach children and provide dental supplies to kids who need them. After nearly 30 years, this annual activity is engrained in the company’s culture and enthusiastically supported by staff. We’re proud to say this year we reached 11,600 children. It’s our largest outreach ever and we’re focused on serving even more children next year.”

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that more than 50% of children will be affected by tooth decay before age five, proving that educating children early and often is vital. In addition, a study from the Office of the Surgeon General notes that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related conditions. As part of the visits from Dental Associates, each child received a dental kit with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and dental care information.

“The staff look forward to getting out into the community each year and educating children,” Dr. Manos said. “They get to interact with children who are eager to learn and excited about taking care of their teeth. During each visit, they do games and hands-on learning exercises to get the kids involved and make it fun.”

Each of the Dental Associates’ clinics has someone who organizes and administers the program, and since the organization has been doing it for so long, many of the teachers and schools anticipate the visits each year. Organizers know the importance of creating two-person teams who enjoy spending time with children and answering their questions.

“The teams enjoy leaving the clinic environment and engaging with children in a place where the kids are relaxed and comfortable,” said Dr. Manos. “It’s a different type of interaction to meet with children on their own turf, more honest and interesting, and they really listen to what the dental professionals have to say.

“The visits mean a lot to the dental assistants because they know they’re making a difference,” he continued. “Often times we reach children who don’t get to see a dentist regularly, so they haven’t learned the importance of brushing twice a day and making smart choices about what they eat and drink. We’re passionate about kids’ teeth, and the school visits are so rewarding.”

“Despite what some people think, baby teeth are very important for children,” he added. “They help children speak clearly, chew naturally, and provide a path for permanent teeth to follow. They also create a beautiful smile that helps children feel confident.”

About the Author

Meg Kaiser | Associate Editor

Meg Kaiser is an associate editor in Endeavor Business Media’s Dental Division. She works on, RDH eVillage and RDH Graduate newsletters, Dental Economics magazine, and RDH magazine, and has for nearly 20 years. She knew she'd caught the dental bug when she began preaching oral-systemic health to everyone she met. Contact her at [email protected].