As a requirement for their Community Dental Health course this semester, and to celebrate February as National Children’s Dental Health month, the Clayton State University Dental Hygiene program senior students recently visited Lake City Elementary School in Lake City, Ga. This is the same school where Dr. W. Gail Barnes, chair of the Dental Hygiene Department, participated in the Clayton Chamber Principal Partner program last fall.
Lake City Elementary Principal Erica Johnson welcomed the Dental Hygiene students and expressed her gratitude on behalf of the students and teachers. The dental hygiene students visited the first and fourth grade classrooms and spoke to approximately 200 children. They spent approximately 20 minutes instructing the elementary students on brushing and flossing (for the fourth graders), and choosing good foods and snacks to eat for healthy teeth and smiles.
Each student was provided with a “goody bag” which contained a tooth brush, small bottle of alcohol-free Listerine, toothpaste and floss. All of the teachers , and Johnson, were given a “dental goody bag” similar to that of the students, but theirs also included a tongue cleaner. Barnes also provided Principal Johnson with a box of individually wrapped sugarless gum for distribution to the students, at her discretion.
Barnes notes that when she visited the classrooms during the Dental Hygiene students’ presentations, she was struck by the excitement of the elementary students, teachers and dental hygiene students. The dialogue between the elementary and dental hygiene students was phenomenal, she says. The elementary students listened intently and asked pertinent questions.
As a service to the local community, the Clayton State Dental Hygiene faculty and Barnes have discussed sponsoring a “Lake City Elementary Back to School Dental Health Kickoff” this coming summer. The objective is to open the Clayton State public Dental Hygiene Clinic on a Saturday in August, before the start of the Clayton County school year, to provide preventive services for the Lake City Elementary School children for a reduced fee or, depending on financial sponsors, for free.