As we sit here and think about how the past year has been in our office nothing has been more affected by the world events as our community outreach dental program known as the Smart Smiles Program. It has come to a screeching halt due to COVID and schools having to educate children remotely and with new strict safety guidelines in place. For the past 20+ years we have been going into preschools, daycares, elementary schools, libraries, recreation centers and the like with the goal of teaching children what to expect when they walk into the dentist office for the first time. Our main goal has always been to help the children learn that the dentist office is a fun place where they will meet their dental team, learn about how to properly care for their teeth. Everything is taught with puppets, props, and lots of smiles as we play games and read stories on the program we are visiting. It is completely individualized to ensure that every child benefit from the experience.
This past year has required us to take a different approach of how to educate the children without physically being in the schools, and we are working hard on a program that we can bring virtually to the classroom. We are hopeful that as the weather gets nicer that we will be able to take our program outside and let the children enjoy the fresh air and maintain social distancing to listen and learn from the Smart Smiles program. Charlie the dog looks forward to making the children smile with his pearly white teeth, and our Dr. Petrie puppet enthusiastically wears his mask and can’t wait to talk to the children. The true star of the show, Miss Liz, looks forward to seeing all the smiling faces sitting crisscross applesauce when the time is right. Until then, keep brushing, flossing and most of all keep smiling!
By Kim Tanner