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Massena dentist talks teeth during school visits

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MASSENA - Dr. Jonathan R. Zysik, a Massena dentist, was a little late in celebrating Dental Health Month this year, but that didn’t diminish the importance of his message to young students at the Massena Nursery School and Madrid-Waddington Central School.

Properly brushing and flossing, he said, “gets rid of the food stuck in your teeth” that can cause cavities if they remain.

Dental Health Month is celebrated in February and, even though he had to forgo his visit to the schools until Monday, Dr. Zysik said they were important - not just to stress proper brushing techniques, but also to alleviate any fears youngsters might have of going to a dentist. He recommended that children should see their dentist for the first time around age 1.

“It’s just to let them know what the dentist does and talk about brushing. We try to make the first visit more fun than anything. The first few visits they get their teeth polished and checked and get a prize,” he said.

Then, when the youngster needs more dental work, they’re not as apt to be scared, Dr. Zysik said.

“They’ve already come several times,” he said.

During his visit to the Massena Nursery School, he shared a story called “Brushing Teeth” that reinforced the importance of taking care of one’s teeth.

“Does everybody brush their teeth before going to bed?” he asked, with some students saying they also brush them other times during the day.

“You should brush at least two times a day,” Dr. Zysik said, adding that they should use a new toothbrush when the bristles start to fray, or about every three months.

Luke, the character in the story, uses a small amount of toothpaste, starts by brushing the side of his teeth and then makes sure he brushes each tooth.

“When he’s done he spits out the toothpaste. He does not eat it, right?” Dr. Zysik said.

The students had an opportunity to practice their toothbrushing technique on a staff alligator with teeth, and honed their flossing skills using blocks that had been built to resemble teeth, with pieces of Play-Doh tucked between them. Rather than using floss, the youngsters used a small rope to remove the Play-Doh.

To get them started on their dental journey, every student received a gift bag that included a toothbrush and mini tube of toothpaste, along with a miniature bracelet featuring a smiling tooth and the words, “Brush, Floss, Smile.” They also received some tips for parents on how to properly care for their child’s teeth.

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