MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Five third-year students and two faculty members from the West Virginia University School of Dentistry will visit McDowell County next week to help elementary school students discover dental health.

“Discovering Dental Health K-3” is an educational program for children in kindergarten through third grade that empowers children, families and teachers with the knowledge and tools to fight tooth decay.

“We are conducting a targeted and unique program for these children in McDowell County,” Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., faculty member in the WVU School of Dentistry, said. “We want the teachers to reinforce the importance of oral health and seeing a dentist, and we want them to help the students learn and truly believe that they can keep their teeth for a lifetime.” 

Children will participate in an oral-health assembly at school and take home a backpack loaded with a spin brush, floss, toothpaste, a regular manual brush and an activity book. Local dentists were asked to participate in the program by providing their names and contact information to be included on a dental resource list that will be sent home to the parents in the backpack.

“When a child’s teeth are unhealthy, it affects how he or she learns and concentrates in school. Sick and unhealthy teeth can also cause problems with self-esteem and how children eat, speak, and how they look,” Gina Sharps, R.D.H., clinical assistant professor in the WVU Department of Dental Practice and Rural Health, said. “By providing oral health education to young children, we are hoping to influence the dental hygiene behaviors they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

The WVU School of Dentistry students will visit:
•    Anawalt Elementary School from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 19
•    Fall River Elementary School from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 19
•    Iaeger Elementary School from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on Dec. 19
•    Bradshaw Elementary School from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 20
•    Southside K-8 School from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 20
•    Kimball Elementary School from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 21
•    Welch Elementary School from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 21

“Discovering Dental Health K-3” is funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation Associate Choice Program.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 12-13-11