When it comes to getting kids’ attention about the importance of dental health, Westminster dentist Dr. Lyndsay Kuzmak has found that a pair of fairy wings and some giant teeth usually do the trick.
In recognition of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, Kuzmak visited Sandymount Elementary School in Finksburg to help educate kindergartners and first-graders about the importance of oral health, including healthy eating habits, cavities and the mechanics of brushing teeth.
“I bring a giant tooth with me and I go over basic tooth anatomy — knowing my audience is 5- and 6-year-olds … I don’t go into too much depth,” Kuzmak said. “I found out that when I’m dressed up as a tooth fairy I’m better received by the children.”
Developing good hygiene habits, Kuzmak said, is crucial at an early age. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States; about one in five children between 5-11 years old have at least one untreated decayed tooth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This month is all about getting kids to develop good habits at an early age and learning how to schedule regular dental visits to help them get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums,” Kuzmak said.
Kuzmak first visited Sandymount in 2019 to offer her oral health presentation. Kuzmak’s daughter, Gabby, 9, is now a third-grader at the school and this year, she helped her mom with the presentation.
Kuzmak called it a “special” and “unique” experience to give the presentation with her daughter as her assistant, also dressed as a tooth fairy.
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“I think Gabby will continue to present with me the next two years until middle school. … The kids hear about the importance of oral health at school from their teachers, at home from their parents, in the dental office from their dental provider, but this time they heard it from a peer, which I think will be very meaningful and hopefully make a lasting impression on them,” Kuzmak said.
The Carroll County Health Department also noted the observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February with an announcement about this year’s theme, “Sealants make sense.”
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent tooth decay. They form a protective barrier that helps prevent bacteria from causing cavities.
School sealant programs have traditionally been an effective way to provide millions of children with dental sealants but since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many school sealant programs have been forced to discontinue and the number of children and adolescents receiving dental sealants at schools has decreased, according to the health department.
“Sealants are an inexpensive and painless way to protect children’s teeth, now and in the future,” said Dr. Thomas Downs of the Carroll County Health Department. “We hope that every family in our community has the understanding to seek sealants from their dental provider or accept them when they are offered.”
The Carroll County Health Department dental clinic offers a variety of dental services, including: dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, sealants, extractions and fillings. To be eligible for dental clinic services, children must be a resident of Carroll County, between the ages of 1-18, and be enrolled in the Maryland Medical Assistance Program (Maryland Healthy Smiles). Pregnant women are eligible if they are residents of Carroll County and enrolled in the Maryland Medical Assistance Program. For more information about the Carroll County Health Department’s Children’s Dental Clinic and dental services, call 410-876-4918 or visit: https://cchd.maryland.gov/dental-clinic/.