In this health video learn important habits to ensure your child has a healthy smile and teeth for years to come.
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Female Speaker: On almost any given afternoon, The Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club of St. Louis, Missouri is bustling with children. This is their neighborhood center. After school, it is here they play, do homework and are kept under a watchful eye until they go home. Flint Fowler: Well, we serve about 2100 boys and girls here. The majority of them are what we consider low income. More than 50% live with a single parent. Female Speaker: Here children get more than recreation. They get friendships, health, and life skills, and three times a week, a free on-site dental clinic. Thanks to a partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Crest. This innovative program was created in response to a report released by the U.S. Surgeon General's office revealing an epidemic of oral health disease in America. Dr. James Maginnis: Kids in this community come from a wide variety of dental education and they may come into my office with food in their teeth, and some cavities or things like that. And they may not brush their teeth, not at all, maybe once a day, maybe once a week. But it could use improvement and that's where we step in. Female Speaker: Doctors say the key to good oral health care is prevention, stopping problems before they arise, by reaching and teaching children good habits early in their lives, like cleaning properly and eating nutritiously. Dr. James Maginnis: The snacking should be more healthy food, less sodas and less sugary candy and things like that. Female Speaker: Because her own teeth are decayed, Sonya Johnson, a mother of twelve, has always worried about her children's teeth. As a single mom, barely making ends meet, dental care was out of the question. Now with the free clinic, she says her family is getting the help it needs and in the process, becoming more aware of the dos and don'ts of good oral hygiene. Sonya Johnson: I try to encourage them to stay away from the candy and the soda and the chips and stuff like that and try to encourage them to eat more healthy foods such as apples and, you know, milk, carrots, stuff like that. Female Speaker: Armed with complimentary new dental supplies the family gets periodically from the clinic, Sonya reminds her children to be diligent with their brushing and flossing. Sonya Johnson: You've got good toothbrushes, you got the toothpaste and I want you all to really brush those teeth because it is important. Female Speaker: Nine-year old Khep-ra McMillan visits the clinic regularly, too. Khep-ra Mc Millan: I like my smile. I think I have beautiful teeth. I keep them clean. I brush after snacks. I brush after dinner, breakfast and any kind of food I eat. Female Speaker: His mother Betty says thanks to the clinic, all four of her children have healthy teeth. Betty Hines Rahman: It's convenient and like I say, it doesn't, nobody says anything about the money, so I love that part. Female Speaker: For ninth grader Kenneth Simpson, bleeding gums have been an ongoing problem. Admitting that he doesn't brush nearly enough, today, for the first time in his life, he is shown how to brush effectively. The dentist warns him of gum disease, even tooth loss, if his habits don't change. Recognizing that parents in this community often have not been exposed to good oral hygiene basics themselves, the doctor tries to educate Kenneth's mother about the seriousness of the problem. Male Speaker: In the future, he risks to lose his teeth, if he doesn't brush good enough, okay? Dr. Jacques Lebahar: When the kids are in the chair and we are explaining to the kids, we are also explaining to the parents, so like that, that's creating a way for the parents to be able to ask questions. Female Speaker: Doctors say access to dental care and information is critical. Poor oral hygiene not only causes tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath but studies have linked it to more serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, premature birth and diabetes. A bright healthy smile also