MAXTON — Prospect Elementary School students received on Wednesday a “lesson in a lunchbox” about how to properly care for their teeth.
Event coordinator Brianna Chavis-Locklear, and other East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine students presented the lesson to Prospect second- and third-graders. The Society of American Indian Dentists sponsored the shipment of 220 lunchboxes filled with oral hygiene supplies to the students.
The lesson focused on helping the children learn early in life about taking care of their teeth, eating healthy — and considering a career in dental medicine.
Chavis-Locklear, an ECU Dental School alumna, played a part in Prospect being chosen for the lesson. She said there is a great need for dental care instruction throughout the county.
“This is the third top county with missing, filled or decayed teeth, so it’s imperative and really important that someone comes here,” she said.
The students first watched two Charlie Brown videos about how to properly brush and floss their teeth. Then the ECU students gave a live demonstration using teeth models and and stuffed dinosaurs. Students then were brought to a table where an ECU student explained what was in each lunchbox.
Presleigh Bullard, 9, gained knowledge about flossing and demonstrated what she learned from the video and the demonstrations.
“You put it to your teeth and up to your gum and make a ‘C’,” Presleigh said about the floss.
Allie Bullard, 7, said she would use her newfound knowledge to help her 1-year-old brother.
“I can teach my brother how to brush his teeth. He has one big tooth up front,” Allie said.
Each lunchbox contained a diagram on the proper way to brush teeth, a healthy food chart and a case shaped as a carrot that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and a removable top that serves as a cup for water used in rinsing teeth.
“One of the reasons we selected a lunchbox like this is so that it’s imposing. We don’t want it to go away so the kids continually learn from it,” Dr. Winifred Booker said.
Booker is the president of Society of American Dentists and the creator of lesson in a lunchbox. She hoped that the lesson would inspire the children to consider dentistry.
“We need more minority children, more children who come from their own communities to consider the profession of dental medicine,” Booker said.
“Anytime you educate children on things like dental care and hygiene, it’s going to pay dividends down the road,” Prospect Principal Jonathan Blue said. “We are so glad to have East Carolina. We’re truly thankful.”
Also present at the event were Dr. Loren Alves, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry at the ECU School of Dental Medicine; dental residents from the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Community Service Learning Center-Robeson County; University of North Carolina at Pembroke students, and Fayetteville Technical Community College students.
ECU operates a dental clinic on N.C. 711, near Pinecrest Country Club, where people can receive dental care that they can afford.
Chavis-Locklear originally is from Pembroke. She is a student member of the Society of American Indian Dentists, a SAID scholarship recipient and a member of the Lumbee Tribe.
“I was literally sitting here not too long ago. People who encouraged me all along is what matters,” Chavis-Locklear said.
After the event, the students were asked, “Who wants to be a dentist when you grow up?”
Nearly all of the students indicated they did.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-416-5865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.