It’s always a blast catching up with the program on dental hygiene presented by Gig Harbor dentist Eric Kvinsland to elementary schools of our district.
He “owns” the open-mouthed, wide-eyed youngsters from the minute he steps before them. In a darkened classroom, he projects an animated video, at once hilarious, then serious, then funny, extolling the virtues of proper care.
Kvinsland employs a large hand-puppet and involves kids in brushing its teeth. He gathers kids before the class and has them pretend to be teeth as he demonstrates proper flossing techniques. The audience is mesmerized … and learning.
“You must learn to floss to clean inside your teeth,” stated student Luke Jarvis.
Classmate Blake Knodel agreed: “The dentist tells us to make sure we floss.”
Kvinsland said his wife, Bradie, have been doing the program for 12 years and now it is getting replicated around the state.
“I am proud to have been born and raised in Gig Harbor and to be a part of it,” Kvinsland said. “It’s a great place to grow up and now work. To be able to reach the kids I don’t normally see in my office makes my day.”
“You must brush your teeth for two minutes each day,“ declared kindergartener Barrett Ryan.
Kvinsland’s father was a dentist in Gig Harbor almost 50 years.
“My mom was a hygienist,” he said. “They used to visit my school, Artondale, and talk to the kids about oral health, and were always involved in the community. I remember how proud I was of them.
“When I became a dentist, (I decided) prevention is a way we can reach kids; not all of them get to see a dentist. This is a way to give them tools to use to keep themselves healthy. (Decay) is the most common disease in humans and can be largely preventable with correct habits.”
Kindergartener Halle Torres noted, “You brush your teeth for two minutes.” And classmate Lily Shultz warned, “Candy can be bad for your teeth, like at Halloween time.”
“Kids are so much fun to talk to,” Kvinsland said. “They get excited about brushing, flossing and nutritional health. I grew up going to these schools and, in the case of Artondale, I’m teaching them in the same first-grade classroom I was in. My hope is that we can help prevent this disease by getting to kids early helping them develop good habits.
“It gives me a chance to plug education, too,” he added.
Kvinsland, incidentally, is my dentist, a personal friend, and a member of the Board of Directors of Communities In Schools of Peninsula with me.
My kind-a guy!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.