Bert the Dragon Helps Kids Learn about Dental Care
Bert the Dragon is hygienist Camille Fagadore’s best friend when it comes to educating Seacoast children about oral hygiene.
Fagadore is a school-based dental hygienist who visits local schools to talk about dental hygiene and provides dental services to Seacoast students who otherwise would not receive care.
Greater Seacoast Community Health – which includes Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth and Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth — offers this service to students. Helping to fulfil the organization’s mission of providing accessible care, Fagadore travels from school to school with her mobile dental health shop.
She gives oral hygiene presentations to over 1,300 Seacoast students – from preschoolers to sixth graders, and she provides instructions on proper dental care using Bert the Dragon. The stuffed animal has his own set of teeth that she uses to demonstrate proper brushing techniques. Fagadore says the educational part of her role is paramount because children often don’t understand the importance of dental care.
Qualifications for the school-based dental program are based on need as evidenced by Fagadore’s examination of the students’ teeth and the information on their dental history provided by their parents. In order to qualify, students must not have seen a dentist in the past year. After students have qualified, Fagadore provides them with a cleaning, a fluoride treatment, and a sealant. During the exams and cleanings, Bert the Dragon is visible to provide some comfort to the kids.
“Bert helps a lot to calm the kids’ fear,” says Fagadore.
Often students have extreme fears of seeing a dentist and having someone examine their mouths. Fagadore said that she sits with these students helping them get to bottom of their fears so she can examine their teeth.
“After we spend some time together, they eventually allow me to help. They typically leave with smiles and high fives,” she said. “There are so many challenging aspects, but it all makes it worth it to see the smiles on the children’s faces.”