Children to get a lesson in tooth decay |

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.

“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.

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