Elm Elementary School students brush up on oral hygiene
Lina Yu and Joe Dougherty, dental students from Midwestern University's College of Dental Medicine in Downers Grove, hand out toothbrushes to students. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:38AM
ELMWOOD PARK — Students at Elm Elementary School weren’t too happy to hear that some of the foods they love are bad for their teeth.
Groans and gasps came from the students in Marianne DiFrisco’s third grade class when a group of dental students from Midwestern University out of Downers Grove told them how much sugar is in an average glass of chocolate milk (about 26 grams) or a milkshake (50 to more than 100 grams). Soft drinks, Pop-Tarts were high on their list as well.
For several years, dentist Anthony Ponzio has been coming to the school on his own to spread the message of good oral health.
But those annual solo visits could cover only a few classes. This year, he expanded, recruiting 40 of his students.
On March 14 the dental students spent the whole day giving presentations to every class in the school. Although there was some disappointment, DiFrisco said, it didn’t last long.
“They love it,” she said. “They were very excited about learning about things that hurt their teeth.”
The dental students stressed to the students the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day as well as flossing. To make sure the students had no excuses, the dental students gave them toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Nia Vazquez, 9, said the presentation was interesting.
“I learned about plaque on your teeth and if you don’t brush your teeth more plaque builds up and could cause a cavity,” she said. “I also learned if you eat too much sugar in one day it stains your teeth.”
Lina Yu, 24, a first-year dental student who volunteered to come out the school, said she had a lot of fun. “A lot of questions they asked were very intriguing,” she said.
She hopes they’ve had an impact on them and taking care of their teeth.
Colin Barile, 9, got the message.
“I thought it was cool,” he said. “All of the information about your teeth and what you can and can’t eat. I thought orange juice was good, but actually it is bad.”
Sue Ponzio, principal of the school, said the event was about giving the students awareness and at the same time inspiring them.
“Give them a spark that seeing these young people they will be inspired to do something like become a dentist and go into higher education,” she said