RICHMOND, Va. -- If you're a parent, you can probably relate to the challenges of getting your kids to brush their teeth.
On Thursday, dental assisting students from Fortis College in Richmond will visit Country Daycare in Henrico to teach preschoolers proper dental hygiene. It's part of an annual event called "Give Kids a Smile."
"We now actually see more children with less problems than we did in the past," explained Angela Smith, program director of dental assisting at Fortis College. "I attribute that to public health and Head Start programs, and things like Give Kids a Smile."
Fortis College students will also get practice working with young children at Thursday's event, and they will give the students bags with all the supplies they need to make brushing fun.
"Prevention is a lot cheaper than treatment," Smith noted. "So if we can prevent decay and prevent periodontal disease, then we don't have to treat those things."
Smith has some dental tips for parents to ensure their children's teeth stay healthy.
Make sure your child is using a smaller toothbrush, don't put too much paste on the brush and don't forget to floss everyday.
"If people don't floss, they miss about 35% of the tooth surface," said Smith. "So flossing in between those teeth actually helps in getting out food debris, soft tissue deposits and all the other things that get caught between our teeth like popcorn kernels, to keep that area in between the teeth as clean as possible."
While dental health can sometimes be forgotten, Smith noted keeping your teeth clean and healthy is a major part of your overall health.
"Anything that can affect your heart, basically, it pretty much all starts in your mouth," she explained. "So if your teeth hurt or your gums are inflamed, then you're not going to want to eat, which is not going to be good for the rest of your body to be able to heal itself like it is supposed to do. And getting that preventive care is so important."
Fortis College dental assisting students will be offering a low-cost dental clinic one Friday a month beginning in March. It will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and you must have an appointment.
If you'd like to sign up, Smith said to call the college at (804)-377-8350.