PATERSON, NJ- 120 Paterson children at the Eastside Head Start welcomed a special visitor on Thursday, and got a very special lesson on dental hygiene and the importance of cleaning their teeth regularly.

Dr. Robert Grunstein, DMD, the founder of Smile Central Dental in Paterson, told TAPinto Paterson that he has been visiting the city’s children in their classrooms for 14 years because “that is the most effective way to see the kids that have the most need.” While he often travels in a converted fire truck along with his Dental Therapy Dog Snickers, on Thursday it was just he and his puppet that provided the screening.

There are, Grunstein said, “awful dental habits from all over the world,” that have ended up in Paterson, a city recognized for its diversity. With a larger goal of preventing cavities and tooth decay Grunstein’s efforts are designed to “reeducate” children on what to eat and how to clean teeth to prevent cavities.

Sign Up for E-News

According to Gail Freschi-Saile, BSN, RN, the nurse for Eastside Head Start, “the American Dental Association recommends that children have a dental visit every 6 months.” However, many of the low-income families that avail of Head Start programming find it difficult to access dental care for their children. This, Freschi-Saile said, makes the partnership with Grunstein and Smile Dental even more important. 

Offering a reminder that dental care is critical because the mouth “is the entry point into the human body,” Grunstein said that learning these important habits are critical and “effect total health.” Without them, he warned, children can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t learn.