Okinawa dentists out to brighten smiles this month
February 7, 2005
CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — With February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, dentists on the island are planning events to help spread the word to kids about good dental hygiene.
One of the bigger projects for Navy dentists will be traveling to all of the schools on Marine camps throughout Okinawa. Navy Lt. Matthew B. Kahn, 3rd Dental Battalion’s coordinator for the month’s activities, said dentists will hold talks at elementary, middle and high schools. Each presentation will be tailored to the audience, as different age groups have different dental hygiene needs and habits.
For the high-school presentation, oral hygiene will be discussed along with the effects of tobacco and diet on dental health, according to Navy Lt. Andrew Bookwalter, Division Officer of the Dental Clinic at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. High-school students also will learn about dentistry as a career field.
In middle school, the plan is to talk mostly about hygiene, with some mention of career opportunities and the effects of tobacco and diet, he said. In the elementary schools, Bookwalter said, hygiene will be the focus.
“It will be how to brush your teeth and how to have a good time of it,” he said. “They don’t have attention span for speeches, so we’re going to show them something gross.”
Pictures of not-so-healthy teeth and gums will be used to warn students of the dangers of bad dental hygiene.
Kadena Air Base’s 8th Dental Squadron is going to Kadena schools every school day during the month to brief classes on dental health and hygiene, a base spokeswoman said. They also will give an oral-hygiene demonstration at the Base Exchange on Feb. 19.
The Navy dentists will hold a fun run Feb. 19 on Camp Courtney. The free event is open to beneficiaries ages 3 to 14. There will be three races: a quarter-mile for ages 3 to 6; a half-mile for those 7 to 10; and a mile run for 11-to-14-year-olds. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Courtney Commissary, and the first race starts at 8 a.m. Trophies and medals will be given out, and dental clinic staff members will be on hand with literature.
The Evans Dental Clinic at Camp Foster will open its doors on Feb. 26 for a “Dental Fun Day,” Kahn said. From 8 a.m. to noon, parents can bring children in for exams, cleanings and sealants. There will be games, face painting and prizes for the kids and presentations on proper dental care for the parents. The event is open to all identification card holders and beneficiaries.
While appointments aren’t needed for the event, Kahn recommends calling the clinic at 645-7381 to get on a makeshift schedule.