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Dental fair mixes fun with education

February 21, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

There were bright smiles all around at Westmorland Elementary School on Wednesday when the fair arrived in town.

The fair in question was the Dental Health Fair. The fair is a component of the California Children's Dental Disease Prevention program and operates under the auspices of the Imperial County Public Health Department.

Booths were set up early in the day on the lawn opposite the school office. Health department staff, some dressed as large fruits and vegetables, manned the booths.

Students, kindergarten through sixth grade, were shepherded by their teachers from booth to booth for a mixture of fun and dental education.


Program coordinator Valerie Romeo, arming herself with an oversized toothbrush and a model set of teeth large enough to rival those of Jaws, demonstrated the correct way to brush. Romeo also introduced the children to the intricacies of flossing.

At the beginning of the school year Romeo and her team visited each of the five elementary schools enrolled in the program and presented a dental health education program to the students.

Romeo explained that the Dental Fair was a way of reinforcing what the children had learned earlier in the year

Those bright smiles were a little warier when it came to lining up for a dental inspection by a dentist who had volunteered his time for the program.

Assured that he wasn't going to "drill," the youngsters dutifully moved up the line, waiting their turn in the chair.

The program has five targeted schools on board — Finley, Heber, Niland, Westmorland and San Pasqual in Winterhaven. There are some 2,200 children participating in the program.

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

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