First 5’s $250,000 investment into Madera County was enough to bring the tooth fairy out to a pair of eastern Madera County preschool classrooms last Wednesday.
Children at the Oakhurst and North Fork Regional Head Starts sang songs, answered questions and were shown how to properly care for their teeth with the help of the Cecelia Haro, registered dental assistant for Camarena Health, who donned the pink dress, silver slippers, tiara and wand to morph into the Tooth Fairy for a day.
“The kids were really excited. They get really excited when we surprise them with the tooth fairy. We make it a big thing, a big announcement when she walks into the classroom,” said Mary Noriega, dental health education specialist for Camarena Health.
The children in the Oakhurst classroom were excited to see the tooth fairy. The excitement only amplified their participation in the sing-along activities, as well as their enthusiasm when they were asked questions by the Tooth Fairy or dentist Dr. Georgia Revilla.
After the demonstrations and songs, the children were offered a free dental screening, conducted by Dr. Revilla. The children were all sent home with a dental kit consisting of a toothbrush, stickers, a 2-minute timer, floss, toothpaste and informational brochures.
The “Tooth Fairy Project” is a collaboration between First 5 and Camarena Health to begin preventing tooth decay, a common childhood problem.
“You want to teach prevention from a young age. In order to do that, we have to be able to educate the children to demonstrate the proper way to brush, flossing and even using mouthwash,” Noriega said.
Noriega said she was unsure if these presentations would continue, but she said even if the investment does not extend past this year, she hopes they can still find a way to continue oral hygiene education in the community.
The First 5 investment will also be used to address the challenges with vision some children face.
Tzu Chil Mobile Vision Clinic will provide vision screenings to over 250 preschoolers, although eastern Madera County is not included in that portion of the investment.