As my daughter, Catherine, and I nestled in for our 12-week ritual of watching "American Idol," she said, "Mom, do you know that you are on Google?" A warm smirk came over my face, because I am not sure if anyone can "be on" the search engine Google, or more specifically can be found in Google.
I responded, "Of course I know that, princess, I am the director of an online hygiene newsletter." Catherine defensively replied, "Well, I don't know everything that you do, but I know you think about teeth a lot."
Admittedly, yes, I do think about teeth and oral health "a lot." Moreover, I certainly do not expect my 11-year-old daughter to have clue as to what a "dental hygiene consultant" actually does. But the conversation did inspire me to ask her, "So what do you think about teeth?" She answered, "Mom, I know teeth are important, and I want them to be white, and I guess I don't want any cavities, but I don't think about them as much as you do!" Silently I smiled a huge Cheshire cat grin, and thought, thank goodness!
Thank goodness, Catherine is not one of the tens of thousands of children who do think about their teeth constantly ... the children who enter the ER with nontraumatic dental complaints or whose systems could not battle the infection that began in their mouths and lost their lives. Thank goodness my children do not have to worry about neglected dental diseases and lack of access to care.
Yet, so many other children do!
I attended the Oral Health America 2008 Gala held in conjunction with the Chicago Midwinter convention. Though it was a wonderful opportunity to get dressed up and feel like Cinderella for an evening, it was an evening of excitement and the realization that we still have a long way to go. Direct access for all is on the forefront of many state legislative initiatives. We as oral health professionals must take action for the children who cannot speak for themselves ... for the patients who want to seek care, yet are saddled with so many barriers that they would rather go to the ER and have a tooth extracted than conquer the hurdles needed to access traditional dental care.
During this Children's Dental Health Month, it's not about which company donates the greatest number of toothbrushes, or which organization screens the most children — it's about creating real change. It's about focusing on the underlying issues that affect why children cannot seek care. It is about getting involved, either by volunteering your time or by sending an e-mail to a legislature. It's about sitting on the couch with your children and thanking the Tooth Fairy that they do not have to suffer the pain and oftentimes humiliation of dental disease while making a commitment to ensure that you are doing what you can do for others.
I thank the following companies for their continued monetary sponsorship. It's more than just writing a check; it's about saving a child's life and crafting a healthier, productive future.
2008 Gala & Benefit Sponsors
Henry Schein Dental
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Beazley
Chicago Dental Society
The Argen Corporation
Belmont Publications, Inc.
GC America, Inc.
Hu-Friedy Manufacturing Company, Inc.
National Dentex Corporation
Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage