Elijah (8) and his sister Kira (6) participate in Native American Connections' free daycare program for low-income residents. It was here that Esperança provided vital intervention – oral health education - that has the power to save the teeth and overall health of Elijah, Kira and their friends in the program.
When one of Esperança’s Community Health Educator’s rolled in a cart full of tooth props, giant toothbrushes and colorful fruits and veggies, the kids could hardly contain their curiosity. This was Esperança’s first time teaching at Native Connections, but their energy filled the room with excited whispers.
As the kids settled, Esperança’s health educator shared the various causes of cavities and best practices for oral hygiene - eyes grew wide and hands shot up eager to ask questions.
“What food makes your teeth strong?” “Why do we have to throw away our toothbrush after we’re sick” “Should I go to the dentist even if my teeth don’t hurt?”
Over the course of the class, siblings Elijah and Kira shared that they do not regularly see the dentist, but Elijah already has “silver on his teeth”. We came to discover this meant cavity fillings, and he wasn’t the only one of his four siblings to have them.
In fact, according to the Arizona Department of Public Health, 60% of children ages 6-8 in our state have experienced tooth decay.
So, it was no surprise that when we moved on to showcase the amount of sugar in various drinks, Elijah exclaimed, “I drink Gatorade every day, I thought it was good for you!” Astonished, looking at the sandwich bag one-fourth full of granulated sugar, he realized one reason why his teeth were suffering.
Following an afternoon of revelation, Elijah, Kira and the other children left the session with new toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, an activity book to continue their oral health education (all courtesy of Delta Dental of Arizona) and a promise to ask their parents when their next dentist appointment will be.
Simple as it may seem, this viral education provided at an early age can prevent not only severe and costly oral health conditions, but other illnesses linked to poor oral health like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Through the support of Esperança’s donors, our educators can provide this education to every community that needs it – regardless of language or cultural background.
For just $50 each month an oral health workshop can prevent costly, painful cavities and long-term ailments for three children. We hope you consider turning your support monthly today! Donate now.