Empire students learn it’s best to keep dental problems at bay | NevadaAppeal.com

Empire students learn it’s best to keep dental problems at bay

Staff report
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Truckee Meadows Community College dental assistant students, from left, Nicole Bader, Sherry Frias and Jenny Salas give a dental-health presentation to Empire Elementary students Tuesday afternoon.

Students at Empire Elementary School headed home Tuesday with some unusual items tucked into their backpacks.

More than 300 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students each received a tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush and cover, floss, plaque-detectors pills, and a children’s cookbook from the Silver State Chapter of the AT&T Telecom Pioneers.

The Telecom Pioneers group includes more than 400 retired and working communications volunteers from Northern Nevada. Each year, they bring dental education to one elementary school in the area.

“It’s just one of the projects the Telecom Pioneers do to help the communities, and we try to target at-risk schools,” said Dana Whitworth, a board member of the volunteer group.

Empire Elementary School is considered at-risk because it has not made adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind education act for four consecutive years. Nearly 70 percent of its students receive free-and-reduced lunch, compared with a district average of nearly 32 percent, and almost 65 percent of students have limited-English proficiency, compared with a district average reaching 19 percent.

For at least the past six years, Telecom Pioneers have distributed dental kits.

Last week at Empire Elementary, they also brought more than 20 dental students from Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno to talk about dental education, including how to properly brush and floss.

Here’s what a few fourth-graders learned:

• “If you don’t brush your teeth, your teeth will start falling out and your teeth will turn black” – Gabriel Kinkead, 10

• “We learned how to rinse, brush and floss” – Selena Martinez, 10

• “That we should brush our teeth really good and keep them really clean” – Jonathan Romo, 10

• “ëf you don’t brush your teeth, your gums will start getting unhealthy” – Luis Gomez, 10

• “The most interesting thing to me was the pictures they showed us because that could happen to your teeth if you don’t brush them good” – Savannah Smith, 10

• “If you don’t floss your teeth, you’ll get gum stuck in them” – Cristian Hernandez, 10

• “I learned that plaque can make your teeth gross and yucky and how I should brush my teeth a lot more because I have a lot of plaque on my teeth” – Christopher Henrickson, 10

• “If you smoke a lot, your teeth will get yellow” – Alexis Romo, 10

• Telecom Pioneers have been in Northern Nevada for more than 40 years, and there are groups across the United States. The Carson City group hosts Easter and Christmas parties for special-education children, paints U.S. maps on school playgrounds and much more. To join in Carson City, call Lee Radtke at 720-1961.