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School group tours dental office

Dr. Murray D.D.S. uses a Play-Doh kit to show Petrova Elementary first graders what his office, Family Smiles Dental Care, does to help patients keep their smiles healthy. (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

SARANAC LAKE – First grade students from Petrova Elementary School joined the staff of Family Smiles Dental Care in Saranac Lake for an office field trip to learn about ways to prevent cavities, the importance of healthy eating and dental procedures.

The class was divided into three groups to go into various stations. One station covered healthy snacks and brushing while another group used playdough to fill “cavities.” The last station allowed the children to role-play, taking turns in the dental chair, cleaning teeth and examining various tools.

Petrova Elementary School Dental Hygienist Suzanne Snizek says, “We want to give the children a comfortable experience at the dentist. Some of these children have never been to the dentist. This visit gives them an opportunity to experience a nonthreatening, hands-on, positive approach to meeting the dentist.”

In 1981, the Saranac Lake Voluntary Health Associatio on Main Street, saw a need for an elementary school dental hygienist. Since that time the SLVHA has provided the area children with an in-school dental hygienist to promote early dental health education.

Snizek, with the support of the SLVHA, realizes that she is sometimes the first experience children have with any type of dental care. She checks their teeth as well as provides fluoride and applies sealants (with parental permission).

“The dental tours have been conducted for over 30 years. Dr. Murray at Family Smiles and Dr. Neil and Dr. Small (Tri-Lakes Center for Dentistry) alternate groups between their offices and help to promote the importance of early dental care,” says Snizek. “It is vital to show these students that going to the dentist can be an anxiety-free experience. At this age the children are able to gain and retain important information regarding dental health. We hope they take that knowledge and apply it at home.”

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