Children to get a lesson in tooth decay | AspenTimes.com

Children to get a lesson in tooth decay

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen dental hygienist Cheri Grinnel sees a lot of neglected teeth these days.

As a participant in a new Colorado State Health Department program, Grinnel has joined a group of hygienists who are systematically screening the teeth of every third-grader in Colorado. And an alarming percentage of those screenings show the beginnings of tooth decay, she said.

“There’s a surprising amount for what you think goes on with our affluent valley,” Grinnel said.

Tooth decay is actually the most common chronic disease of childhood, Grinnel says, a fact often overlooked by parents. February has even been designated as National Children’s Dental Health Month, a milestone that is also generally ignored.

But the organizers of the second annual Children’s Dental Health Fair are hoping to change that.

The day-long fair is organized by the Aspen Given Foundation and largely sponsored by the Fred and Elli Iselin Foundation. Every second-grader in Aspen is being invited to the Given Institute on Wednesday to watch videos, play games and see a play written by Aspen High School students in order to learn more about their teeth.

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“It’s so important that children learn about dental care at this age. They’re starting to get their permanent teeth,” Grinnel said. “This is just a fun way to celebrate in a carnival atmosphere.”

The children will also meet eight local dental hygienists for professional advice, Grinnel said. The group will help test the 7- and 8-year-olds at the fair for the beginning signs of dental problems.

The students will also receive goodie bags provided by dental supply companies.