Dentist brings life saving campaign to Gulfport school - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Dentist brings life saving campaign to Gulfport school

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. A Gulfport dentist wants to help children save their smiles and their health. On Friday, he brought a national program to a Gulfport school to explain why a toothache is not only painful, it can also be deadly. 

The program started with a short video presentation. Behind the upbeat cartoon was a serious lesson. The students learned why it's so important to have healthy teeth and gums.

"Do not share your toothbrushes," Dr. Roy Irons told the group of Kindergarten through third graders.

Dr. Irons is a Gulfport dentist.  He is also the president of the National Dental Association.

"I bet you there are kids right now telling you they got a toothache and it's been unattended," said Irons. "So we want to bring awareness to the fact that with these kids, with these toothaches, it's going to affect a lot of things, number one, their eating, their learning, and sleeping."

Dr. Irons brought the oral health campaign called "Lessons in a Lunch Box" to Gaston Point Elementary School.  Gaston Point was the first school in Mississippi to have the program. 

Dr. Irons gave each child a bright orange box to serve as a daily reminder about dental care. Each box came with tips about healthy food choices and a plastic carrot.

"It's so cute. In the carrot, there's a rinsing cup, they got toothpaste, a toothbrush and it has floss in it," said Irons.

The national campaign started five years ago, after the death of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver.  The Maryland seventh grader died from complications with a tooth abscess.

"The National Dental Association decided we never want to see another child die from a toothache," said Irons. "They'll understand that we don't have to grow up with a toothache. We don't have to have this pain and have to suffer like this."

When asked why he thinks it's important to take care of his teeth, first grader Erick Greenlee replied: "So you can be healthy and eat right."

About 240 students, from Kindergarten through third grade, received the orange lunch boxes. Dr. Irons said more dentists are planning to introduce the program to other schools in Mississippi.

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