Omaha students work to cut cavities by brushing at school

Posted at 11:37 PM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-07 20:40:31-05

Dental students at Creighton University partnered with Nelson Elementary School in Omaha with a goal of getting kids cavity-free by 2023.

As part of the campaign, they are providing students with their own toothbrush to keep and use at school. The brushes are labeled with students' names.

The students were taught how to brush properly, and they learned to brush for two minutes. 

This program is beginning with kindergartners through second graders. They will add a grade level to the program every year. 

Principal Dr. Susan Toohey says, "they know that taking care of their teeth is important, but I think sometimes it gets missed in the morning rush so we want to make sure we really emphasize how important it is." 

Dr. Toohey said that poor oral hygiene can cause pain and other health problems which can negatively impact a child's learning. 

Stuart Tucker is a student in the Creighton University School of Dentistry. He says some students do not see a dentist until the damage is already done. "You're pulling their baby, their primary teeth, and by the time the decay in their mouth has progressed to their permanent teeth, they've already started a cycle to destroying their adult teeth." He hopes this connection will stop that cycle. 

February is National Children's Dental Health Month. "Give Kids a Smile" is an annual push to help all children receive oral health care, but this program seeks to expand that connection beyond the day designated for "Give Kids a Smile." 

This story is part of our ongoing series, In the Classroom.