Students at East Three Elementary School were treated with apples and cheese as they celebrated Healthy Snack Day on April 18, which is one of the many initiatives that the school promotes during National Oral Health Month.
Adama Stevens, the regional dental therapist, went from classroom to classroom and delivered the snacks to the students, all in an effort to promote healthy eating and to encourage the youth to maintain their oral hygiene.
“I’m beginning to see improvement, but I would like to see parents get involved at home to just reinforce the brushing, especially before going to bed. And to just cut back on the sweets,” Stevens said.
The goal of the campaign, she said, is to “encourage them that they can enjoy a healthy snack.”
“It’s important because, apart from the oral health benefits preventing the tooth decay, it’s also good orally to have roughage, like apples and cereal,” she said. “They are all (better) for our well-being than the sweet and sticky foods.”
In addition to the snacks, the students were also given “smileys” that were attached to toothbrush handles, which allowed them to pose for a selfie as they held the smiley to their face. The smileys were issued by the Oral Health Foundation, as they prepare for National Smile Month in May.
“Just to encourage them to maintain their oral health. It’s the first time I’m using the smiley. Usually I just give the snack and do some presentations,” said Stevens.
Earlier in the month, Stevens said that she went to various classrooms and gave presentations that offered oral health tips, where she provided information to students on how they can maintain healthy teeth and gums.
“For their teeth and gums, brushing two to three times a day – if it’s possible with fluoride-type toothpaste – and then to floss,” she said. “Then I tell them what will happen if they don’t brush, especially at night. If they miss out during the day, I emphasize brushing before bed.”
At the beginning of the school year, the Inuvik Regional Hospital distributed a toothbrush to each student to encourage them to brush their teeth while at school.
“They brush every day. Every student, every class. Sometimes they miss out, but most of the time they brush,” Stevens said.
She added that she’s seeing progress being made, but she would like to see residents cut down on the junk food that’s damaging their teeth.
“They eat a lot of unhealthy snacks. Like pop, sweets, the potato chips, the candy. It’s bad for the teeth, especially at a young age,” she said.
At the end of the month, she said that she’ll have a display set up at the local Northmart, where she’ll promote the importance of oral health to customers as they walk by.
“A lot of parents now are getting involved in the oral hygiene of their children. It’s always important, even with adults. It’s something that we have to constantly remind parents and children,” she said.