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Dental health

Autumn Wagner, left, and Harlee Lear, both first-grade students at Madison Elementary School, practice flossing with a large row of Legos and play-doh Friday morning. Jodi Reznicek of Clove Dental in Muscatine, showed a short movie, talked about good and bad food for your teeth and the importance of brushing.

MUSCATINE, Iowa — A group of enthusiastic first graders at Madison Elementary School learned about dental health Friday morning as Jodi Reznicek, of Clove Dental, gave the last of the presentations she's given to all the first grade classes in the Muscatine Community School District.

Madison was Reznicek's last school to visit and she ended her school tour in Sheila Williams' classroom, but began the morning in front of Brianna Dusenberry's class.

The class easily identified the importance of teeth when Reznicek asked: To eat. Without teeth, Reznicek said, people wouldn't be able to chew and so couldn't eat crunchy food.

She explained to the students that being without teeth would greatly restrict their diet, saying, "You'd probably have to eat baby food. Do you wanna eat baby food?"

The kids emphatically replied that they did not, cries of "Ew!" taken up all over the room.

To avoid that, Reznicek told them, it is important to take care of their teeth by brushing twice a day — a point she emphasized by having the kids clap twice every time they heard her say the word "two" — with a small amount of toothpaste, only the size of a pea. She also stressed that they shouldn't swallow the toothpaste, since the fluoride in it is good for teeth but not for stomachs.

On Dina, a stuffed dinosaur with a full set of teeth, Reznicek showed the children how to brush in circular motions and said to be sure to brush all their teeth as well as their tongues.

Then came a lesson on flossing. Using a large Lego piece with space between the prongs where she placed some play dough and a string, Reznicek illustrated how to bring the floss down alongside one tooth all the way to the bottom and then slide it over to the next tooth before bringing it up alongside that tooth. The students practiced, too, working in pairs with one holding the Lego piece in place while the other "flossed" the play dough out.

Clove Dental has given its oral health curriculum presentations to preschoolers for years now, but this is the first year the presentation has been given to first grade students, Reznicek explained.

"This age bracket is the age bracket when they're learning healthy habits [which will] help them move forward in life," Reznicek said, explaining that her tour of first grade classrooms had been a success. "I'm really glad that the Muscatine Community School District values health care as much as it does."

Each student was given a packet to take home which included a letter to their parents, a toothbrush, a glow-in-the-dark bracelet and a Drawn2Smile Coloring Contest form on which the kids are to draw a picture about something they learned during the presentation.

One student from each elementary school will win a $25 gift card to Palms 10 Theatre, sponsored by Clove Dental, and a gift certificate for a free large pizza from The Sicilian for their picture. One of those eight students will be declared the overall winner and Clove Dental will give their school $200 to be used by its parent-teacher organization.

The winners will be announced on Clove Dental's Facebook page (facebook.com/CloveDentalMuscatine) and all of the students' pictures will be on display at the Palm 10 Theatre, 3611 Palms Dr., March 6-21.

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Education and general news reporter, as well as film critic