Students Brush Up Their Dental Knowledge


“Look at all these big smiles!” said Dr. Joseph Marino as he walked into Lauren Hussey’s classroom to speak with curious first-grade students about their teeth.

Marino, who has a general dentist practice in Brewster, started this Pequenakonck Elementary School tradition 20 years ago when his son was a student in these same classrooms. Though his three children have since graduated from North Salem schools, he still returns yearly to teach preventative care and patiently answer questions. “It’s like coming home when I visit, I’ve spent so much time in these classrooms,” he said.

“My goal is to demystify the dental visit and allow the students to voice their concerns,” said Marino. “This helps to relieve any preconceived fears or worries they may have.”

The students had plenty of questions for their special guest:

“When does a tooth know to come out?”

“Why do you have to bite down to take an x-ray? Why can’t you put a camera in your mouth?”

“What do all those tools in your office do?”

“Why do dentists brush our teeth too?”

“How do teeth turn yellow?”

“Do we have bones in our teeth?”

In addition to answering their questions, Marino discussed how to care for teeth, encouraged eating healthy foods and drinking water, and suggested minimizing acidic and sugary foods to avoid dental decay. He shared a video about dentist office visits and encouraged students to ask questions during appointments. “When you go to a dental office, you’re allowed to raise your hand and ask, ‘what are you doing now?’”

The grand finale was a demonstration with an oversized pair of teeth, nicknamed Charlie, to explain effective teeth brushing and flossing.

After the presentation, one student enthusiastically announced that he had a dentist appointment after school and was excited about it.

Sarah Divi is the Communications Specialist for the North Salem Central School District. This article is part of an ongoing series of stories that showcase student experiences and exemplify the district's mission statement in action.

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