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HOW ONE DENTIST MAKES BRUSHING FUN Dental Literacy Dentistry Made for Patients 1 2 Effective Natural Antibiotics What Your Stinky Breath Can Signal 2 Helping Children Love the Dentist Soba Noodles With Garlic and Zucchini 3 HowThis Dentist Makes Brushing Fun 4
A s a freshman at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry, Jeanette Courtad was tasked with a daunting community outreach project: Educate kindergartners on the importance of brushing their teeth. Luckily, Courtad is also an artist, and she came up with a creative way to captivate the youngsters’ attention. Using her talents as a painter and sculptor, Courtad used materials, like couch foam and fabric, to mold personified characters that represented teeth and other parts of the mouth. For example, Cuspi, the cuspid, is concerned with aesthetics and how things feel — she doesn’t like to be covered in sticky sweets. Mola, the molar, is all about functionality. Tongo, the tongue, is a bit of an antihero. As Courtad explains, “Even though he helps clean sticky sweets off the teeth, Tongo is the one [that wants] them in the first place.” Courtad brought her life-size creations to classrooms settings, letting the kids “brush” away the plaque and germs. The teeth initially wore frowny faces because they weren’t clean, and the students learned
that brushing them removed the bacteria and turned their frowns upside down. As Courtad notes, “Obviously, the teeth were sad when they were covered in these Velcro germs before the kindergartners took a giant toothbrush and ... brushed those little germs off the teeth with me.” After completing dental school, Dr. Courtad continued to pursue her passion for educating kids about oral health. The initial outreach project laid the foundation for the children’s book series the “Toothful Tales” adventures, which were illustrated and written by Dr. Courtad. Today, Dr. Courtad’s books about dental care, starring the same fun characters, are found in dental offices and health care programs all over the country. In collaboration with the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy, Dr. Courtad has expanded the series with books written for expectant parents in underserved communities. According to health coordinator and dental hygienist Diana Leathers, “These books provide a great deal of education because they are easy to read and provide important information using fun graphics.”
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