By Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The coined phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is well known.
If that picture was a person’s smile, shouldn’t someone want those words to be a testament to their true self, like “sparkling,” “dazzling” and “white as the driven snow?”
Last week may have been National Smile Week, but the men and women working at Schriever’s Dental Clinic are working to help Team Schriever personnel put their best smile forward every day.
“A person’s first impression of you is usually formed from the moment they see you,” said Master Sgt. Chandra Cantrell, Schriever Dental Clinic noncommissioned officer in-charge. “Unfortunately, not practicing good oral hygiene can lead to cavities, bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis, abcesses, pain and ultimately tooth loss.”
For those worried about the dangers lurking in their mouths, the dental clinic team has programs in place to help fight for a winning smile.
“The dental clinic has several programs to help with keeping the 50 SW’s active duty, Active Guard Reserve and traditional Reservist smiles healthy,” Cantrell said. “We offer everyone an annual exam and cleaning to help detect and prevent cavities. We also have a High Caries (cavities) Risk program that is offered to members who have more than two cavities a year. Members who participate in the program are educated on the disease progression, an exam and cleaning every 6 months, fluoride treatments, and prescribed a fluoride toothpaste for use at home.”
To avoid dental diseases and unwanted cavities, members are encouraged to make good dental hygiene a family practice.
“If you make it important as a family, it becomes important to the individual,” said Staff Sgt. Miranda Savino, Schriever Dental Clinic. “By educating families together on dental hygiene and making it something they can do together, it makes things like brushing and flossing easier habits to retain.”
Also, early childhood education helps prevent unnecessary fear of the dentist office.
“The best thing parents can do for their kids is to take them to the dentist early and often,” Cantrell said. “Children will become accustomed to the sights, sound, and smells of the dental office as well as what they can expect to happen. This strategy works with great success to prevent fear of the dental office in children as young as 1-2 years old. Children who are afraid of the dentist can be helped by positive encouragement from their parents and treatment at a pediatric dental office where every aspect of the practice is geared towards making children feel at ease.”
Also, some dentists believe in using the “ings” concept to cultivate sparkling pearly-whites.
“If people can remember the four ‘ings’ they can be sure that their smile will stay in tip top shape,” said Capt. Brandon Bennett, Schriever Dental Clinic officer in-charge. “The ‘ings’ are: brushing, flossing, rinsing and eating. Members should brush twice a day with American Dental Association approved toothpaste. Clean between their teeth with floss to removed plaque and food. Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse to reduce the bacterial count in the mouth helps prevent gingivitis. A fluoride mouth rinse will help reduce and prevent cavities. Maintaining a balanced diet can make a huge difference in your dental health.”
Proper dental hygiene shouldn’t just be remembered during National Smile week, but should be practiced everyday to ensure a good first impression and the best total health.
“Your dental care can improve your systemic health also,” Cantrell said. “Some examples are better glycemic control in diabetic patients and decreased risk of pre-term/low-birth weight babies. As a child I remember reading a poem in my dentist office that said, ‘Keep your teeth healthy, keep your teeth clean, they will return the favor by making your mouth gleam.’”