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Navy Lt. Elise V. Hurrell, Naval Health Clinic Quantico, department head, Marine Corps Air Field Annex Dental Clinic, speaks with Ethan during a recent visit to Russell Elementary School to promote dental hygiene awareness as part of February’s National Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month.

Photo by Photo courtesy of Naval Health Clinic Quantiico

Naval Health Clinic Quantico helps promote dental hygiene awareness

9 Mar 2015 | John Hollis Marine Corps Base Quantico

Dental disease is the most prevalent of unmet healthcare needs, and a harbinger of bigger troubles ahead if left unchecked.

The goal of February’s National Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month was to provide children more understanding about the importance of lifelong oral health. The community outreach program, which was the idea of the American Dental Association, was initiated at the Naval Health Clinic Quantico last year, followed by last month’s appearances before 661 school-aged children aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The presentations, which took place at Russell, Ashurst and Burrows elementary schools, took great care to emphasize the importance of oral disease prevention and overall oral health, said Navy Lt. Elise V. Hurrell, Naval Health Clinic Quantico, department head, Marine Corps Air Field Annex Dental Clinic.

“It’s a big problem,” she said of the growing numbers of children with tooth decay.

The numbers bear that out as dental disease has become the No. 1 chronic disease among children, Hurrell said. An estimated 20 percent of all children aged 5-11 suffer from untreated dental decay, while 13 percent of those aged 12-19 do likewise.

Left untreated, those small dental issues quickly morph into bigger, more expensive ones, Hurrell said, citing statistics that show that every one dollar spent now on preventive child dental care saves $50 later in emergency dental care and restorative treatments.

Hurrell was among a team of dentists and dental assistants who made the educational rounds last month to stress the importance of proper dental care. The presentations, which included the use of puppets, demonstrations and child-friendly videos, were targeted to each specific grade level using the ADA’s oral health education curriculum.

The idea was to get the children comfortable with proper dental hygiene.

“If they’re not scared, they’re going to the dentist,” Hurrell said.

NHCQ’s Dental Department donated more than $2,000 worth of oral hygiene supplies to the children, including age-appropriate toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and two-minute hourglass timers that encouraged the children to brush their teeth for the appropriate amount of time.

“There are easy solutions [to preventing dental decay],” Hurrell said. “If you take the precautions for it, it can really help in the long run.”

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico