The L.A. Trust Welcomes the Tooth Fairy
Tags: dentist, Dr. George McKenna, Dr. Maritza Cabezas, Maryjane Puffer, oral health, tooth fairy, tooth fairy convention
Categories: Advocacy, Healthy Eating, Los Angeles health care, Oral health, Public Health, Water
by Ashley Lewis
Sunny blue skies, live music and a trio of dazzling Tooth Fairies provided the backdrop to a festive afternoon of health education as more than 600 students and parents from across LAUSD gathered in Exposition Park to celebrate The L.A. Trust’s inaugural Tooth Fairy Convention.
Attendees were treated to free dental screenings, healthy-food trucks, and fun giveaways while learning about the benefits of oral health.
Dr. Maritza Cabezas, Director of Dentistry at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, urged families to drink or cook with tap water, which contains fluoride that helps prevent cavities. She noted tooth decay affects some 70 percent of all third-graders.
“Forget about soda, forget about all those surgary drinks,” she said. “Drink tap water!”
Families making their way into Exposition Park received a “Tooth Fairy Passport,” so they could take notes during the 15-minute educational sessions they attended throughout the day.
“I didn’t know anything about the tap water being healthy for the kids to drink, and I found this very helpful,” said Tanisha Cole, the mother of two toddlers. “I was also able to get my children’s teeth checked out at the dental screening booth.”
The event was the brainchild of Maryjane Puffer, executive director of The L.A. Trust for Children’s Health. She brought together hundreds of volunteers and more than a dozen community-based organizations and partners, including America’s Tooth Fairy, Delta Dental, Kaiser Permanente, and USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. Los Angeles Unified’s Beyond the Bell Branch also participated in the cheerful celebration.
“Our intention with the Tooth Fairy Convention was to have fun, raise awareness, and honor the students and parents who are willing to take the ‘Tooth Fairy Pledge,’ to become an advocate in their schools, families and communities,” Ms. Puffer said. “That pledge ends with the words, ‘I am informed. I am important. I am a Tooth Fairy.’”
And the Tooth Fairy Convention was indeed a special celebration as celebrity guest and actor Dante Basco, noted for his character Rufio in the movie “Hook” helped honor more than 150 parents who had been committed to improving oral health in the district through support of The L.A. Trust’s oral health initiative. As the event closed, attendees took the “Tooth Fairy Pledge” to become advocates for oral health in their communities and share the information they gained while attending the Convention.
Their commitment drew praise from Dr. George J. McKenna III, vice president of the school board.
“Nothing,” he said, “is more important than the health of our children.”