“Who wants to meet Mister Thirsty?”asked the dental assistant.
Hands shot up, all over the brightly colored room, while lifting onto their knees to inch closer, during a field trip to Surfin’ Smiles Pediatric Dentist. Although most of us may dread dental exams, these kids were able to see past the intimidation and discover excitement and fun in taking care of their teeth.
“The biggest thing is that this exposes them to what a dental office is and what happens here,” explained Ms. Kathie, youth development professional, BGCCW. “Some of them have never even been to a dentist and this opportunity helps them be better prepared.”
During their visit, Club kids were shown x-rays, how to brush and floss properly, and what tools are used when they’re in a dentist’s chair; i.e. Mister Thirsty! Each child was allowed to use the tube that sucks up water by chasing the droplets on a tray. If the loud noise was alarming before, they all grew comfortable with Mister Thirsty once it became a toy.
“What happens if you don’t have teeth?” “Can I use toothpaste to get out my cavity?” “What does a crown mean?” Questions layered over the other in eagerness, as the kids requested further knowledge about their teeth.
Kathie smiled at their enthusiasm. “So many are afraid of the dentist. Seeing it in a fun environment, it doesn’t look so scary this way.”
BGCCW kids aren’t just facing fears, they are being taught invaluable lessons regarding self-care.
The dentist guiding the tour referenced a chart of sugary drinks. “Did you know that one soda has as much sugar as one-hundredFun Dips?” She went on to express just how important it is to take time flossing and brushing. “We have to make sure to get rid of the sugar bugs!”
Today, Boys & Girls Club members left the dentist with a better understanding, and desire, to ensure their teeth are well taken care of. Perhaps when they visit again, for an actual checkup, their experience will be greeted with fewer nervous jitters. At the very least they’ll recognize their friend Mister Thirsty.