Posted at: 02/28/2013 4:58 PM
Updated at: 02/28/2013 6:54 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Representatives from Delta Dental - including mascot "Marshall Molar" - visited students at Desert View Elementary and Ann Parish Elementary in Los Lunas Thursday to teach them about brushing, flossing and keeping teeth clean - crucial tools for avoiding issues in the classroom.
"Tooth decay continues to be the number one most chronic childhood diseases and in schools today that's affecting children," Delta Dental representative Sara Limon said. "Missing school means missing reading so the tie between dental health and literacy is very important."
The National Institute of Health says students lose 51 million hours of class time every year because of oral health issues. Experts say without regular hygiene and preventative care, minor issues become major problems and cost more than just the kids.
"It's also an incredible expense to the state," Dr. Erik Watson said. "When children end up with rampant cavities they end up having to go to the operating room. It costs at least $7,000 to $8,000 dollars per case, and unfortunately the state absorbs a lot of that cost."
So while a visit from "Marshall Molar" may seem like just fun and games, dentists say every reminder helps.
"If we can get children in here early, have parents understand how important it is to stop oral disease in the first place, we can save them money, we can save the state money, we can save the child a lot of distress," Watson said.