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Baby Days prompts smiles in Cornelius, Hillsboro

At Virginia Garcia event, parents learn dental health begins with infancy


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - A crying infant lays across the laps of her mother and dentist Megan Sapp during an examination at Baby Days Feb. 11. The event was held at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Centers Hillsboro medical clinic.The take-away message for five families who attended a “Baby Days” event at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center’s Hillsboro medical clinic last Tuesday was that dental health is a family affair that begins as early as a healthy pregnancy.

Two events — one in Cornelius and the other in Hillsboro — were designed to demonstrate to new parents the importance of dental health in even the youngest children.

Using presentation materials in English and Spanish, dentist Megan Sapp and dental assistant Melinda Pedroza covered general advice for parents expecting children and those with babes-in-arms, touching on the topics of healthy diets, daily hygiene and the importance of regular visits to the dentist.

“One of the great things about Baby Days is that parents often bring their older children along with their infant children,” said Mike Westling, public relations officer for VGMHC. “Everybody learns together about dental health.”

Pedroza followed up a 15-minute educational film with specific advice to parents, such as avoiding putting a baby to bed with a bottle (unless it is filled with only water), since milk, formula, juice and other drinks all contain sugar.

She also pointed out that pacifiers for babies should never be dipped in anything sweet, such as sugar or honey, as this promotes tooth decay.

Children were fascinated as Pedroza demonstrated proper oral hygiene on Oscar, a teddy bear with an open mouthful of large teeth. Afterward, one little girl was delighted to hold the bear.

Parents participated by sitting “knee-to-knee” with the dentist, their small child lying across both laps so moms and dads could observe exactly how the child’s teeth were examined and cleaned. Pedroza explained how the Virginia Garcia dental clinic avoids being the “hot seat,” which is how many folks feel about a dentist’s chair. Instead, families and kids interact in a play group environment, removing the stress from what many — particularly children — consider an anxiety-ridden situation.

Dr. Sapp noted that dental health for babies should begin at an early age: the first check-up can occur at any time between six and 23 months, when the first teeth appear. Subsequent visits can then be regular and preventative, avoiding the issue of decay.

Helping parents establish a dental home for their children is one of the goals of the organizers of Baby Days.

Westling said the Baby Days concept began in VGMHC’s Cornelius clinic about 10 years ago and has spread to other communities.

A provider of “high quality, comprehensive and culturally-appropriate primary health care with a special emphasis on those with barriers to receiving health care,” Westling said, VGMHC was founded 38 years ago as a grassroots volunteer-run clinic.

It’s now a full-service health care home, Westling noted, serving Washington and Yamhill counties. Its dental program is a leader in providing services to pregnant women as well as advancing early childhood hygiene and disease prevention.

Baby Days programs now occur monthly in Hillsboro, Cornelius, McMinnville and — starting in March — Beaverton. A full schedule can be found on the nonprofit’s website: virginiagarcia.org/programs/dental.

At the end of a busy evening Feb. 11, children left with gift bags full of toothpaste, brushes, floss, a small examining mirror like the dentist uses and pamphlets about fluoridation and cavities.

They also left with some good memories of their first trip to the dentist.

Tooth trivia promotes childrens dental health

In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, the National Education Association came up with the following 10 “tooth trivia” facts:

n Did you know that the average person produces a quart of saliva daily? That’s 10,000 gallons of spit over a lifetime. Saliva is essential to good dental health because it washes food off the teeth, neutralizes acids in the mouth, fights germs and prevents bad breath.

n On a daily basis, your mouth is home to more than 100 million micro-creatures swimming, feeding, reproducing and depositing waste in your mouth. Makes you want to brush your teeth, doesn’t it?

n Our teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and our tooth enamel is the hardest part of our body — even harder than our bones, In order to keep our teeth for a lifetime, we need to take care of them by brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist.

n Did you know that 50 percent of people say that a smile is the first thing they notice about someone? Brush twice a day and floss daily so the smile people are noticing is shiny and white,

n We think a shiny, white smile is attractive, but did you know in medieval Japan white teeth were considered ugly? Women used roots and inks to stain their teeth black, which they felt was much more attractive.

n We need to keep our teeth healthy because we use them to bite and chew, but did you know dolphins only use their teeth to grasp? Dolphins can’t chew, because dolphins’ jaws do not have muscles.

n Dental floss was first manufactured in 1882. If you floss once a day, you will use about five miles of floss over your lifetime. Dental floss isn’t just for teeth — a prison inmate in West Virginia braided floss into a rope, scaled the prison wall and escaped.

n If you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, you will brush your teeth for about 24 hours each year, or 76 days over the course of your life. All this brushing will use about 20 gallons of toothpaste.

n When we brush our teeth, we should also remember to brush our tongues. Did you know that just like our fingerprints, everyone’s tongue print is different? Our tongue is the only muscle in our body that isn’t attached to something at both ends.

n In 1816, Sir Isaac Newton’s tooth was sold in London for today’s equivalent of $35,700. Don’t expect that much money from the Tooth Fairy — in America, she brings an average of $3 per tooth.




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