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Dentist brings traveling van to brighten area kids' smiles

Audrie Price, center, shows how she should brush her teeth after her class learned about dental hygiene on Friday.
Audrie Price, center, shows how she should brush her teeth after her class learned about dental hygiene on Friday.

Dorothy Dixon is one dentist young children are not afraid to visit.

Dixon, a hygienist and a coordinator for the Colgate and Family Dollar Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program, performed free dental screenings at Central Child Development Center in Rock Hill on Thursday and Friday.

"For a child that's never been to the dentist, it's a wonderful way to introduce dentistry," Dixon said.

In her van, Dixon checks the students' teeth and teaches them about the importance of good dental hygiene. She sends them home with brushing charts, free toothbrushes and information about dentists in the area.

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases among children in the United States, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. About 28 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 already have had decay in their baby teeth.

Dixon thinks the van, which travels throughout the Carolinas, is one way to fix that.

After the screenings, school nurses are asked to follow up with the families of children who have dental needs.

Community organizations, including the York County Early Learning Partnership, can help families who cannot afford dental care find the resources they need.

The traveling Carolinas van already has visited several other Rock Hill schools since its inception in January.

Students beamed, showing off their pearly whites, as they stepped off the van at Central on Friday.

"I learned about brushing your teeth two times a day," 5-year-old Rasheema Taylor said.

Four-year-old Robbie Guinn learned why that's important.

"I learned that you brush your teeth because of germs," he said.

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