Frisbie Smiles Brings Dental Care and Education to Local Classrooms to Improve Overall Health
April 2018 - When Bambi Shorey launched the Frisbie Smiles program in 1999, she wanted to help community members avoid trips the ER due to preventable dental-related problems. Too often, these patients were seen for toothaches or abscesses, treated with antibiotics and sent home, only to return for a similar issue, over and over again. Since good oral health habits begin at childhood, the Frisbie Smiles program started by offering dental education and screenings in a local Rochester elementary school.
Over the last 18 years, the program has expanded to serve 14 schools across 5 New Hampshire towns. In the 2016-2017 school year alone, Frisbie Smiles provided dental health and nutrition lessons to more than 1,700 elementary and middle school students. The program offers each child a free screening and preventative care like sealants and fluoride treatments. For families living without access to regular dental care, this care can prevent crippling dentals bills and other health complications.
Bambi knows that reducing dental disease in children can impact their futures in ways beyond their oral health. In addition to impacting their overall wellness, having unhealthy teeth can impact their speech, eating habits, and self-esteem, making it difficult to socialize, maintain a nutritious diet, or get a job later in life. More than creating lifelong habits for these students, Bambi wants to influence the oral care practices of other generations – instilling values and nutritional information that students will share with their parents, and eventually, pass on to their own children. And when she runs into a former student at the local grocery store, it’s clear that something stuck from her quarterly classroom visits; young adults proudly repeat back the brushing and flossing lessons they learned more than a decade ago.