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by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Cecili Hayes, a kindergartner at Byrom Elementary School, demonstrates how to brush Leo the lion's teeth for Travis Evans, who is a dentist at Lakeside Dentistry in Tualatin. Evans visits Tualatin schools every February to talk to students about proper dental care. Left, Evans shows a box of adult teeth to the kindergartners in Danielle Wissmiller's class.A classroom packed with 47 Byrom Elementary School kindergartners sat in rapt attention as they were shown a complete model of adult teeth, roots and all.


With a toothy lion puppet named Leo as their guide and model, the students learned the ins and outs of proper flossing technique. They quickly memorized the ideal toothbrushing soundtrack — three slow repetitions of the ABC’s — and were told to remember to brush their tongues.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Travis Evans, a dentist at Lakeside Dentistry in Tualatin, shows a box of adult teeth to the kindergartners in Danielle Wissmillers class at Byrom Elementary School. Evans visits to Tualatin elementary schools are part of National Childrens Dental Health Month.At the end of the hour, students from Danielle Wismiller and Melinda Phillips’ classes enthusiastically repeated an oath back to dentist Travis Evans: “I promise. To brush my teeth. Every day. For the rest of my life.” Their reward was a poster teaching the merits of a “gold medal smile,” courtesy of the American Dental Association, and a gift bag containing a dental-themed activity book by Crest, pamphlets both for them and their parents and, of course, a brand new, child-sized toothbrush.

This is Evans’ fifth year on the tour circuit of Tualatin-area elementary schools. He continues a tradition of bringing the ADA-provided educational materials straight to students in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month. The curriculum has been refined in the more than 20 years his father, dentist Rick Evans, spent giving his own classroom presentations.

Evans shares the Lakeside Family and Cosmetic Dentistry practice with his father, and estimates that every February, he speaks to a total of 600 Tualatin students. His audiences are mostly students from kindergarten and the first and second grades, although he has received requests to speak to fourth-graders as well.

“They really like helping brush and floss, because it’s a time when they’re losing their teeth and getting new ones in,” Evans said. “They’re very into what we’re talking about.”

Although the ADA provides educational materials to dentists and teachers at no cost, and despite the organization’s decision to name February as a month for educational outreach, Evans says there is no organized outreach among dentists. His practice has made it a priority to bring the lesson to Tualatin classrooms that request it in part because a quarter to a third of school-aged students have never visited the dentist. During National Children’s Dental Health Month, they spread the message of oral health.

“I’ve had a lot of teachers say that it’s good for the kids to hear it from somebody else,” Evans said. “They hear it from their parents, from their dentist if they go, sometimes they hear it from their teacher. But there are so many (kids) that don’t get to the dentist.”

Evans added that because he speaks Spanish, he is able to deliver the message to students for whom English is not a first language.

As he adheres to a month full of busy Mondays shuttling between schools, Evans said he considers the cost of his time, as well as his practice’s out-of-pocket costs for materials like complimentary toothbrushes, an investment in the community. And this year, this commitment to outreach allowed him to visit his son Calvin’s class. As Calvin deftly demonstrated the proper way to floss on Leo, it was clear he was a dentist’s son.

For more information, visit ADA.org.

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