341st MDOS spreads awareness for Dental Health Month

Mercy Padgett, 341st Medical Operations Squadron chief of preventative dentistry, shows children how to properly use floss Feb. 20, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Mercy Padgett, 341st Medical Operations Squadron chief of preventative dentistry, shows children how to properly use floss Feb. 20, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. National Children’s Dental Health Month pushes to guide children into developing good habits at an early age for healthy teeth and gums. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

Mercy Padgett, 341st Medical Operations Squadron chief of preventative dentistry, uses a mascot, Roo, to teach children how to properly brush their teeth Feb. 20, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Mercy Padgett, 341st Medical Operations Squadron chief of preventative dentistry, uses a mascot, Roo, to teach children how to properly brush their teeth Feb. 20, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Roo is one of the hands-on activities the dental personnel use to teach children about oral health. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

Maj. Amber Russell, 341st Medical Group general dentist, visits the child development center to inform children about dental health Feb. 21, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Maj. Amber Russell, 341st Medical Group general dentist, visits the child development center to inform children about dental health Feb. 21, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The goal of the event was to get caregivers and children the education they need to help improve their oral hygiene. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Among the titles the month of February holds, National Children’s Dental Health Month is one of them and marked a significant role for the 341st Medical Group’s dental clinic personnel.

According to the American Dental Association, NCDHM is a month-long observance that brings together dental professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers and teachers.

Dental clinic personnel from the 341st MDG visited facilities on base and in the local area to educate children and their caregivers on the importance of oral health.

The base library, child development center and local elementary schools were among the places visited.

Mercy Padgett, 341st Medical Operations Squadron chief of preventative dentistry, has been in the dental career field for more than 21 years, and recommends that flossing and brushing start as early as possible to develop good oral hygiene habits.

“Oral hygiene affects the whole body, and a lot of people don’t realize that,” said Padgett. “You can develop gum disease at an early age and get gingivitis as early as seven.”

The goal of the event was to give caregivers the education they need to help their children become more accustomed to having their teeth checked and not risk the child being intimidated on their first dental visit.

A kangaroo mascot nicknamed ‘Roo’ and a floss-based game were used during the presentations to teach children first-hand how to brush and floss.

For the older children, a boiled egg experiment took place with a soda product to mimic the effects of the acidity on teeth.

“There’s a common misconception with parents that they think, ‘they’re baby teeth and they’re going to fall out, who cares if they get cavities?’,” said Maj. Amber Russell, 341st MDG general dentist. “If we can get a message to the parents, caregivers, teachers and the kids, it could promote better overall oral health for the children.”

The dental clinic’s goals for next year is to reach out to eighth graders in local middle schools and educate them on dental health and how to maintain proper oral hygiene.
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