Taking the Bite out of a Dental Visit
Early Learning Center Children Learn Basics at Nation’s Health Center
Do you remember your first time in the chair - the dental chair?
The bright lights, water pick, machines that whir and hum, equipment that suctions… visiting the dentist can be frightening, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
Giving a glimpse of what goes on during a dental visit, and the importance of proper dental care, is the focus behind a special tour of the Oneida Nation Health Center’s dental exam rooms. The visit by children enrolled in the Oneida Nation Early Learning Center is appropriately timed in February which is Dental Health Month.
“Every February we bring the kids in and we put them into little groups and each one of us takes them into a room here and we kind of expose them to the environment where they’d be coming to see the dentist,” Debra Hart, licensed dental assistant, said. “We want it to be a friendly environment so when they do come to a dentist they’re not afraid.”
The department also goes out of its way to connect with clients outside of the dentist’s chair - hosting coloring contests, offering tours of the facility, and attending adult and child-oriented health fairs. Lisa Winn, dental office manager, and Dr. Andrew Krantz have already read some stories and did some education with the kids at the center. “We just plug in as much as we can,” Hart said, adding she wishes all the kids, “happy brushing!”
The Dental program is open to Oneida Nation Members, other American Indians enrolled in the Nation’s Health Center, and dependents. From babies to Elders, the Oneida Indian Nation Dental Program services 2,800 patients on an annual basis, promoting and maintaining healthy smiles.
The Early Learning Center’s program is designed for children six weeks to 12 years old. Children of Members and other American Indians, Nation employees are eligible for enrollment. The ELC is open year-round, and offers full and part-time enrollment options. The ELC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the nation's largest organization of early childhood educators.
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