The School of Dentistry has begun its second “adopted school” Give Kids a Smile program with Sacred Heart School. The goal is to ensure that the school’s students are cavity-free by 2023. Nearly 85 percent of the school’s 120 students signed up for the program, which provides free dental screenings to children in need.
Children from the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school donned cool sunglasses and took a seat in a dentist’s chair as part of Creighton “dentally adopting” Sacred Heart to help children who live in an underserved community in north Omaha practice good oral health care habits. Twice a year for the next five years, Creighton will host free dental clinics at the school as part of the Give Kids a Smile partnership.
During the clinic, students received fluoride-varnish and dental sealants, which are protective coatings for teeth that help minimize cavities. Students then visited with dental students, faculty and staff and learned how to keep their teeth clean at health stations. One station had iPads with health apps so students could play games as they learned about good habits for brushing their teeth, and a dental doll was available for practicing.
The partnership with Sacred Heart was researched and spearheaded by Creighton dental student Katrina Goebel. Goebel will begin her residency at the University of Iowa in pediatric dentistry after she graduates from Creighton in May.
Ignoring dental issues can lead to infections that can spread to the jaw or other bones in the face and skull. Also, left untreated, those issues can worsen problems associated with diabetes and can even lead to heart complications. Goebel says to prevent dental issues, children should brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. Goebel says the biggest mistake parents make is not supervising their children to make sure they’re brushing their teeth correctly. She says that there are mobile apps parents can download to make brushing fun for their kids.
“Making it fun is the important thing. If someone hates brushing their teeth as a kid, they’ll hate it as an adult,” Goebel said. “Having good brushing habits can better children’s lives and give them hope.”