Students get crash course on a clean mouth

March 4, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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Dentist gives special presentations about oral hygiene at elementary schools

Dominick Curalli, of Newcastle Dentistry, shows first-graders in Kathryn Ingalls’ class at Hazelwood Elementary School what a cavity-filled mouth looks like. By Tim Pfarr

For National Dental Health Month, Dentist Dominick Curalli, of Newcastle Dentistry, traveled to six different elementary schools in February to teach first-, second- and third-graders the importance of oral hygiene.

One of his stops was at Hazelwood Elementary School, where he gave a presentation to Kathryn Ingalls’ first-grade class Feb. 23.

As part of his presentation, Curalli showed children photos of X-rays, a mouth where plaque was stained red and a mouth filled with cavities.

He also invited children to the front of the class to act as teeth in a flossing demonstration. Those who volunteered were dressed in teeth costumes, and Curalli and another volunteer from the class went through the act of “flossing” the teeth with a rope.

Finally, he gave treat bags to everyone in the class that included a toothbrush, toothpaste, a “Where’s Waldo?” poster, stickers, a dental mask, latex gloves, a pencil and a children’s “Wild Flossers” tool to help with flossing.

“He was very engaging,” Ingalls said, adding that Curalli had a great manner with the children. “He showed them some highly interesting photos of bad teeth, and I think he really drove home the point that it’s important to brush your teeth.

“I would definitely have Dr. Curalli back to my classroom.”

This was Curalli’s first time traveling to elementary schools for National Children’s Dental Health Month. Last year, dentist Geoffrey Strange, also from Newcastle Dentistry, made presentations to schools.

“They have a pretty good time,” Curalli said about the children to whom he presented.

He said his presentations were typically only about 20 minutes long.

“You can’t really have too long of a presentation or the kids lose interest,” he said.

Newcastle Dentistry Treatment Coordinator Theresa Stephenson joined Curalli on his trips to the elementary schools, as she joined Strange last year. She said Curalli is animated in his presentation, especially when showing children gross photos.

“The more ‘ew’ they get, the more animated he gets,” Stephenson said.

Curalli said he hopes to travel to elementary schools again next year for National Dental Health Month.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “It’s different from the everyday grind.”

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