I still remember the day I was shipped off to the student-training centre at the Wascana School of Dental Hygiene. I was the naïve age of eight; a time when I still believed every bus trip led somewhere exciting.
It was early in the morning on a cold winter day when my classmates and I got bundled up in our puffy winter jackets and ran out into the dark to board the yellow school bus. When we arrived at the institutional looking building with the brightly lit entrance I sensed something was amiss. This was not the kind of building that radiated fun. Suddenly our warm winter jackets felt stifling and we all began to sweat.
I kid you not, that’s exactly how it was and I will never forget it.
I’m remembering this fateful day because the students at the Royesville School just had their first experience with dental hygiene this week. But it was far from traumatic. The most enthusiastic dental hygienists I have ever met descended on Royesville for 4 days with the firm goal of declaring the school a calculus free zone.
When the UOF truck arrived at the school at 7:30 am on Monday the “On” switch was flipped and these ladies went to work with startling efficiency considering their 5 am wake up call. Within an hour the library was transformed into a 3 station dental clinic and the first patients were called in.
The dental hygienists warmly welcomed every child into their chair and cheerfully chatted to them while their magnified eyes loomed over the kids’ mouths seeking out the grave offender – tartar. Implements scrapped, mirrors probed, kids rinsed and spat and clean teeth prevailed.
Every child was instructed to raise their hand if anything bothered them but never once did a hand pop up. Eventually the hygienists started looking for more subtle signs like a flare of the nostrils or curled toes to indicate something might be bothering them. With their lovely sing song voices the ladies would quickly comfort the children, apply a topical anesthetic and get back to work.
For the students at DASE their experience with the dental team was an exciting adventure. They each got at least 45 minutes of undivided attention from a fascinating stranger who adored them, they got to wear really cool sunglasses and they walked away with a free toothbrush and toothpaste. Why in the world would they risk that experience by raising their hand if it hurt?
The end of the week was celebrated with songs and speeches all dedicated to the dental hygienists. Kids clamored into the library holding signs saying “I love my teeth”, “We kicked germs out of our mouths”, “Clean teeth, nice smile – we will never forget you”.
And its true, this past week will go down in history at the Royesville School. It will be a long time before the kids stop talking about the ladies from Oregon Tech. A heart felt thank you to Sharon, Heather, Gigi, Mckenzie, Karla, Doreyela and Minh.