A NEW APPROACH TO DENTAL EDUCATION

In Canada and around the world our children face a serious “silent epidemic.”
The most common infectious disease in childhood is severe early childhood caries.

These realities exist. Most people have a Sweet Tooth! (Do you?) Sugary treats and sweets are part of our lifestyle and are often presented by parents or grandparents as a reward. All holidays are celebrated with special sugary treats. Children are bombarded with advertising strongly promoting numerous unhealthy snacks and foods.  Many parents unfortunately do not have the knowledge to choose healthy snacks and meals. Even if you are a proactive parent who packs healthy foods for your child, it does not stop children from sharing sweets and treats when they are at school or out of your care. Too many people believe that dentures are the norm. Poverty and the lack of parental education play a huge role in the overall health of children. Because of these realities, we knew that we had to approach dental education in a whole new way.

What can you do to prevent early childhood caries?

John O'Keefe

Dr. John O’Keefe (Canadian Dental Association) interviewed Dr. Ross Anderson about the prevalence of early childhood caries, also known as “the silent epidemic” and what dentists can do to help.

Listen to the audio interview

Our Children’s Live Dental Education Program “DON’T FORGET TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH” (DFTBYT)  was developed for children from junior kindergarten to grade 3. DFTBYT is designed to teach children the significance of dental hygiene and the repercussions of negligence.  The children have an amazing hands-on, interactive and visual experience.  DFTBYT teaches the children lessons that empower them with dental knowledge.  We teach the children that it is their choice and their responsibility to make right choices.  Each child will learn that they must make a conscious decision to keep their teeth healthy.  We teach our imaginative dental lessons using humour, drama, music, elaborate colourful props, costumes, heroes and villains. We reach out with passion to these little people about the importance of dental health.

WHY AND HOW WE STARTED

Let us begin by telling you a little bit of the background that led to the development of our program.  Dr. Schneider is now in his 36th year of practising dentistry in Ridgeway, Ontario. In that time we have seen thousands of patients; many patients have had bad dental experiences in their childhood resulting in extreme dental fear, anxiety and phobias as adults. A large number of these patients do not take care of their teeth and relive the pain and fear cycle, over and over as they experience toothaches. Very often poor dental hygiene habits and the parent’s complex fears are passed on to their children. When children do not learn that dental health and hygiene are a priority, they too can enter this cycle. Too many children are experiencing pain and anxiety caused by cavities. Unfortunately, this cycle of fear and dental phobia continues to the next generation, without a new innovative strategy, it will not change.

Sadly, children with toothaches, abscesses and teeth rotten to the gums are an everyday experience for dental health professionals.  With what seems to be a losing battle regarding childhood caries (cavities), we realized this growing problem needed an intervention. We needed to break the cycle. Laura created DFTBYT with the purpose of educating children.  She realized that it was essential that the DFTBYT captivate the children and allow them to learn through interactive fun and excitement.  She wanted to create a new and positive dialogue on dental health.  A local newspaper invited by a school in Niagara Falls called it “Dental Health With A Twist.” Our team wanted to make a difference in the dental health of children everywhere we could.  Together with our hygienist Melissa Holmes we are nearing our 6th year of presenting our successful program in Niagara area schools.

DENTAL EDUCATION THAT STICKS!

DFTBYT is sticking to the children in a most positive way! Children 3-8 are still talking about our program years later; we have reached them. We were recently invited back to some schools we had visited 3 years before. The principals asked the grade threes, “who remembers DFTBYT?” Big smiles appeared and all of the hands went up. We have stayed in the minds and hearts of these wonderful children. Dental education that sticks!

We have brought dental health to the foreground.  We have opened up a dental dialogue that did not exist before.  The children experienced with their friends, a fun-filled educational adventure.  They felt the drama and laughed as one at the comedy. A positive, collective dental experience!  Did anyone know that was possible? Typically, dental memories from childhood are lonely and fearful.  DFTBYT gives children a whole new outlook, and a wonderful set of memories and skills for their lifetime.  Children have absorbed DFTBYT, they remember extreme amounts of detail after seeing it only once.  They remember fondly what they have learned and are applying it. What many thought was impossible has been achieved, we have made it cool to brush and floss your teeth.

Everyone enjoys sweets and treats, but we have to educate children how to reduce or ideally eliminate the negative dental effects of these treats.  To solve this challenge, we created a character who would reflect an inner desire for sweets that the children could relate to. Hence the teasing SWEET TOOTH was created to engage the children in the battle of choices regarding sugary treats and lunch pail selections. We have had the privilege of having many amazing principals and teachers become the infamous SWEET TOOTH.  They are the stars of DFTBYT and have engaged the children wonderfully. We thank them wholeheartedly.

sweet tooth

THANK YOU

We have had the privilege of working with the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), the Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) and many private schools in our area. We want to thank them for encouraging and promoting dental health education and welcoming DFTBYT into their schools. Each and every time we are entrusted with their little ones, we are humbled and take that responsibility very seriously. We are proud to share our message to help children achieve oral health now and in the future.

Our sponsors help us continue to take this so very important message to the children of Niagara. We thank each and every sponsor for your belief in dental education and DFTBTY.

Our Vision

We leave our dental practice on Fridays to attend schools all over Niagara. What we are finding is that there are more schools wanting our program then we have Fridays to attend them. To meet this challenge, we are proud to introduce the new members of our DFTBYT team. Their involvement will help us evolve the program to have a broader reach. We are working with Ron Berg (Master Illustrator) and Lyle Schneider (Creative Assistant and Technical Advisor) to take DFTBYT to new and exciting heights.  We are developing many multimedia materials. Our vision is to release a free DFTBYT movie that children can access at home, schools and libraries. Anywhere there is an internet connection, children can learn about dental health with DFTBYT. Please subscribe for exciting updates!

Remember … “DON’T FORGET TO BRUSH AND FLOSS YOUR TEETH”

Help your children keep their healthy smile forever and ever.

Parents, together we can make a difference!

Yours truly,

Dr. William and Laura Schneider and the DFTBTY team