Open wide and say ‘aah’

1,300-plus Yukon, Piedmont students get dental health message from the pros

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Dentist Dr. Peter Carlson performs a diagnostic exam on David Taitano during Tuesday’s Dental Health Day exercise by Yukon area dentists. More than 1,300 Yukon and Piedmont students learned about proper dental hygiene this week. (Photo by Jim Powell)
Yukon dentist Dr. David Deason speaks to a group of Yukon dental professionals and their assistants who provided dental health screenings for all YPS first graders for the annual Dental Health Day. (Photo by Jim Powell)

By Conrad Dudderar

Associate Editor

More than 1,300 students learned “from the experts” about proper dental hygiene on Tuesday during Yukon’s 46th annual Dental Health Day.

For February’s observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month, nearly two dozen local dental professionals visited first grade classrooms across Yukon and Piedmont.

“This is a program I’m proud of and I’m proud that our dentists all take part it,” said Yukon dentist Dr. David Deason, who has coordinated the effort since its inception in 1974.

Longtime Yukon dentist Dr. David Deason (right) accepts a proclamation from Mayor Mike McEachern declaring February as Children’s Dental Health Month in the City of Yukon. For 46 years, Dr. Deason has coordinated school dental visits and free dental care offered by Yukon-area dental professionals. The dentists have seen more than 30,000 students since the program’s inception. The proclamation was presented at the Feb. 4th Yukon City Council meeting inside the Centennial Building, 12 S 5th. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

At Tuesday night’s Yukon City Council meeting, Dr. Deason accepted a “Children’s Dental Health Month” proclamation presented by Mayor Mike McEachern.

Tuesday happened to be Dental Health Day, when local dentists made their annual trek to the schools to talk about dental hygiene.

Local dental professionals saw more than 1,300 first graders and special education students in Yukon and Piedmont. Each student was given a free visual exam of their teeth to check of there were any issues that need to be addressed.

“We’ve seen well over 30,000 students over the 46 years through this program,” Deason said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Dentist Dr. Peter Carlson talks to first graders in Shedeck Elementary teacher Melissa Pearson’s classroom explaining proper dental care and answering any questions they had. (Photo by Jim Powell)

“It’s a real privilege to speak to you and brag on our Yukon dentists. This is the 46th year that we’ve gone to the school system to visit elementary students.”

A group of five dentists started 46 years ago by delivering their dental health message to third graders. Several years later, they began seeing first graders.

For about 20 years, local dental professionals also have participated in the “Give Kids a Smile” program to provide free dental care to children in need. This year, they’ll contribute about $18,000 worth of free work – totaling more than $500,000 since this effort started.

Dozens of dental professionals and assistants meet for lunch Tuesday in the YPS Administration Board Room before heading out to perform check-ups on all district first graders that are designed to detect dental problems before they become serious. (Photo by Jim Powell)

STANDING ‘O’ FOR DR. ‘D’

At McEachern’s urging, attendees at Tuesday night’s city council meeting gave Dr. Deason a standing ovation.

Yukon’s mayor shared his appreciation and called Deason a “pioneer in this project”.

“Forty-six years is pretty special folks,” McEachern said. “We’ve had people here (led by Dr. Deason) who care about our community and take care of our youth and our kids. It’s pretty special.”

Other council members heaped praise on the popular longtime dentist.

Kenya Marins Esparza opens wide as dentist Dr. Peter Carlson checks for possible dental problems during classroom check-ups for first graders on Tuesday at Shedeck Elementary. (Photo by Jim Powell)

Ward 2 Council Member Shelli Selby described the “wonderful service” that Deason and other dentists offer.

Vice Mayor Donna Yanda credited Yukon dentists for their service and time they provide “for our children’s dental care.”

National Children’s Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association, is a month-long observance that brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers and teachers.

Yukon-area dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, dental hygienists, and dental assistants met Tuesday for the annual Dental Health Day luncheon inside Yukon Public Schools’ administration office, 600 Maple.