For Tiffany Western and her five children, oral health has become a family tradition.
First Things First funds the oral health program in the Navajo/Apache region that provides dental screenings and fluoride treatments to children ages birth to 5.
All five Western kids were or are part of the program. The oldest, Hannah, now in seventh grade, started at age 5. Trevor, now in fifth grade, began at age 3. The three youngest Westerns: Taggert, now in second grade, Daks, age 4 and 1-year-old Cody all started as babies.
“Three of my children had cavities early on that we never would have known about had it not been for the screenings,” Western said. “And, the fluoride treatments are essential to good oral health at an early age.”
Good oral health in young children plays a critical role in a child’s overall wellbeing and education. Western said getting her children into the program as infants or toddlers helped diminish any fear or anxiety of going to the dentist as they got older.
“I’m so grateful to Robin House (oral health educator for Navajo County Public Health) and all the people who administer the program,” said Western, who lives in Heber. “They taught my kids to be excited about caring for their teeth.”
Children in the program also receive toothbrushes, toothpaste, a brushing timer and a dental-themed coloring sheet.
One big side benefit of the program?
“I don’t have to fight with them to get them to brush their teeth,” Western said.