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GKAS/NASCAR promote oral health at air base


Dover AFB: Col. Thomas Reppart (left) and Lt. Col. Matthew Orlowsky Sept. 26 flank NASCAR driver and GKAS ambassador Greg Biffle. Col. Reppart is commander, 436th Mission Support Group, and Lt. Col. Orlowsky is commander, 436th Force Support Squadron. The trio stands in front of the No. 16 3M race car.
Dover, Del.—One boy tripped and fell in his excitement, exclaiming, "It's Greg Biffle."

The NASCAR driver of the No. 16 3M race car, engine growling, tooled his way up the street and hooked a left turn onto the sidewalk, turning right at the entrance to the Dover Air Force Base Youth Center and braking at the front door, emerging to shouts and screams from upwards of a hundred military dependents, ages 5-16.

Welcome to race week at Dover International Speedway and the pre-race American Dental Association Give Kids A Smile event on this sunny Sept. 26, a nonclinical feature of the expansive yearlong GKAS oral health education campaign taking the message to the audience.

Sure it smacked of show-biz. But here's the thing. The dentist delivered the message, the driver sold it and the kids bought it. Oh, how they got into it, clamoring to be first with the right answer to the pop quiz and a chance to win a miniature Greg Biffle 3M race car or, for special questions, if you're paying close attention, kids, an even bigger replica of the famous car. This is an auto racing town, famous for its championship competition and for the driver who does so well on this race track.

Dr. Paul Christian, president of the Delaware State Dental Society, introduced today's brush, floss, healthy eating, regular dental visits message with a few questions of his own.

Who has been to the dentist this year? Twice as many hands as children shoot skyward.

OK, who wants to be a dentist when you grow up? These children have been primed by the several speakers to have fun this day and to indicate attention by a show of hands, and they do.

Have you ever thought about not having any teeth? Yuck! Ewww!

If this apple were your tooth and you had a cavity, it would look like this, says Dr. Christian, as he shows an apple with a dark brown spot. We don't want that do we? Your dentist can fix cavities but you can prevent them. You can win the race for oral health, something we all want.

Segue to NASCAR star Greg Biffle, who gives every impression of having fun himself, and he drives home a brush-your-teeth-for-two-minutes-two-times-a-day (2min2x.org) message. "We're getting ready to race at Dover this weekend. We won there in 2005 and 2008, and we're going to win again this year." He performed well enough to stand at sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings.


Winner: One of the children at the Dover Air Force Base gleefully holds her pop quiz prize, a minature Greg Biffle 3M race car.
"There's another race we can win, too, but I need your help. That's the race for good dental health. How many of you want to help me win? (Cheers! Yay! Yes! Me!) The way to do that is two times a day for two minutes. This car can do a lap there (the Dover race track) in about 23 seconds. So while you're brushing your teeth, our team can run four laps in this car. Do you know what a pit stop is? That's where the race car pulls into a pit road for gas and tires. The crew can put four tires on this car and fill the gas tank in just 13 seconds. That means we can do nine full pit stops in two minutes. If we can do that in two minutes you can spend two minutes putting your good dental health on the fast track."

Of course, you need a supporting cast and sponsors; you need social media messaging for an event like this. The former would include the U.S. Air Force Dover AFB team of welcoming and public affairs officers and civilian Dover AFB youth center staff, 16 dental hygiene students from the Delaware Technical Community College Terry campus, the American Dental Association, ADA Foundation, Henry Schein, Inc., Care Credit, 3M Racing and 3M ESPE Dental. The latter would include Facebook and Twitter.

There were brushing lessons on the lawn, oral health lessons offered inside and dental supply kits given to each child even before the festivities began.

"Together, we are committed to help raise awareness of the importance of good oral health," said Jeffrey Chatham, Henry Schein Dental zone general manager, of this "amazing partnership."

A Facebook message of the day introduced seven tips for good oral health: With the kids heading back to school, here are some smart dental tips from the ADA for parents to share with their kids to help them start the school day off right.

A Twitter feed introduced the tips as New Dad @gbiffle recommends.

For more dental tips, visit 2min2x.org, ADA.org, MouthHealthy.org and the GKAS Facebook page or follow the GKAS conversation on Twitter with #gkas or #givekidsasmile.