By Sharon Weatherall
BEAUSOLEIL FN – Hannah Menchenton-Assance knows the secret to a beautiful smile comes from shiny white teeth.
“If you don’t brush your teeth every day you can get cavities,” said the Grade 3 Christian Island Elementary School student.
Menchenton-Assance was recently presented a framed plaque, dental supplies and a t-shirt for winning 1st place with her entry in the “Your Teeth for a Lifetime Foundation” based in Thunder Bay. The annual colouring competition was open to Grade 2-3 students in First Nation schools across the province and was a proud win for the Beausoleil First Nation youngster and her peers.
Menchenton-Assance entered a smiling picture of herself surrounded by messages about “things to do to keep our smiles healthy”.
“I was very surprised that I won but I do all the things on the poster to keep my teeth healthy,” says Menchenton-Assance.
Students receive a lot of education on oral health thanks to a strong program at school and within the community delivered by Oral Health Educator Sharon Monague. She heads the BFN Children’s Oral Health Initiative for tots in nursery school and elementary school students from kindergarten to Grade 5.
“Hannah won the colouring contest overall and we are very proud of her. It is an incentive for kids to be more aware of their oral health,” says Monague.
“I usually also have an annual oral health workshop for BFN kids involving posters, stories or videos. This year there was a good turnout and we did posters after researching online about things like diabetes and how to read sugar content on food labels to show them how much sugar is in snacks. They had to create something presenting their research and do presentations to each other.”
Monague does oral health education bi-monthly, continuing the day-care toothbrush program. The school program involves good nutrition and infection control (fingers in mouth) as part of the oral health program.
There is a public dental office at the Health Centre on Christian Island where a dentist comes part-time to provide a service for islanders. There will be an open house at the Health Centre on Oct. 30 to make people aware of all the services the dentist provides.
The community dental office also hosts a dental hygienist three to four times a month for cleanings, even if kids have a dentist on the mainland.
“The program is carried out in school, at the health centre and even in homes to try to catch them all. We provide fluoride varnish for children twice per year for toddlers to seven years of age. Oral health is a very active program on the island,” said Monague.