Dental Hygienists From Across The Nation Make An Impact On Local Communities

Jan. 13, 2004
Smiles Within Reach™ Program Teaches Communities about the Importance of Proper Dental Health.

This past October, National Dental Hygiene Month, more than 500 dental professionals teamed up with the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) and Oral-B Laboratories to participate in a new community outreach program called Smiles Within Reach'. The program recognizes and encourages the professional support of dental hygienists in their successful efforts to promote oral health and provide access to oral care education within the community.

The health driven need for such a program is evidenced by the fact that according to ADHA, and a recent Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health, proper preventive oral health access and care can potentially reduce the risk of many life-threatening diseases. In addition, dental hygienists throughout the United States need to be recognized for their volunteer efforts, a goal of Smiles Within Reach.

"The access issue has been central to ADHA's mission for 80 years," said Tammi O. Byrd, RDH, ADHA president. "Smiles Within Reach represents ADHA's ongoing commitment to educating communities about oral health, the dental hygiene profession and the state of the nation's public health."

Recent success stories from the Smiles Within Reach program include participation from:
Fatemeh Eshaghi (Reedley, Calif.)�A few years ago, Fatemeh Eshaghi, a registered dental hygienist near Fresno, Calif. noticed that most of the kids she treated were terrified of the dental office. "It breaks my heart when kids scream when they come in for a checkup," Eshaghi said. So, she decided to do something to make the dental office a more kid-friendly place. With Smiles Within Reach, Eshaghi began speaking to several classrooms of children ages two and three�most of whom have never before been to the dental office�about good oral health practices. Now, after participating in Eshaghi's presentations, including field trips to the dental office, videos, puppet shows and coloring pages, dental tools are less intimidating to the kids and toothbrushes have become their allies in the war against tooth decay and gum disease.

Deborah Tracy (Salem, N.J.)�Deborah Tracy, a dental hygienist in Salem, N.J. also conducts workshops that target specific groups including teenage mothers. "Many teen parents are not educated about oral health," Tracy said. "Many of these parents are under the misconception that baby teeth are not important. I want to emphasize the importance of establishing a daily regimen of oral health care even for infants." Through her volunteer efforts, Tracy is educating these parents on the importance of oral health at all stages of life.

Julie Szafraniec (Chicago, Ill.)�For many of the teens registered dental hygienist Julie Szafraniec sees each day, dental hygiene is not a major health concern. Many have never visited the dental office before which reflects a larger crisis in America�the lack of access to adequate dental care. To reverse this trend among the juveniles in the Department of Corrections for the state of Illinois, she began taking part in the Smiles Within Reach program. Szafraniec provides the teens with dental cleanings when they first enter the facility and on their birthdays. She also teaches them the basics of brushing and flossing. "Even if they begin to brush their teeth once or twice a day, I feel I have made a difference," said Szafraniec. "Before this program, many of the teens couldn't remember when they last brushed their teeth. Now, many look forward to the next time they get their teeth cleaned."

Juli Gaub (Longmont, Colo.)�When three-, four-, and five-year-olds see Longmont resident Juli Gaub around the community, they often smile and proudly and show her all their teeth. Gaub is a registered dental hygienist who spends her free time volunteering in local preschools to teach children about the importance of brushing and flossing. Every few months, Gaub speaks with more than 70 kids, encouraging them to ask their parents to take them to the dental office. In the classroom, Gaub uses creative techniques to get children excited about their teeth so they are aren't afraid to visit to the dental office. "I try to make brushing your teeth seem fun," Gaub said. "I bring a flip chart with me that shows pictures of 'cavity bugs' that will live in their mouths if they don't brush."

Elements of the new Smiles Within Reach program include oral health education materials that hygienists may distribute at community outreach events; planning and education resources to help communicate key messages to particular target groups; and assistance in identifying individuals in need of oral care education. In addition, the program provides a network to share community event organizing tips and successes with other state and local dental hygiene associations. Through the Smiles Within Reach program, Oral-B and ADHA are recognizing the important role dental hygienists play in maintaining good oral health for all patients. For more information on Smiles Within Reach, please visit
ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional interests of the more than 120,000 dental hygienists across the country. Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals, licensed in dental hygiene, who provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health. For more information about ADHA, dental hygiene or the link between oral health and general health, visit ADHA at

A division of The Gillette Company, Oral-B ( is the worldwide leader in both the manual and power toothbrush markets with products. Oral-B also sells a wide range of interdental and specialty oral care products, as well as professional products for in office use.

Headquartered in Boston, The Gillette Company ( is the world leader in male grooming, a category that includes blades, razors and shaving preparations. Gillette also holds the number one position worldwide in selected female grooming products, such as wet shaving products and hair epilation devices. In addition, the Company is the world leader in alkaline batteries.

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