With new toothbrush, former dentist aims to help Summit County children
Marielle Pariseau hopes to decrease tooth decay
When Marielle Pariseau was a dentist in Canada, she started a supervised tooth brushing and flossing program at a local school modeled after an initiative in Scotland that has drastically reduced tooth decay in the country for decades.
She quickly found, though, that putting two dozen students together and giving them toothpaste and water was a recipe for disaster. The program didn’t last long.
“When I asked the teachers later what it would take to make a program like this work, they told me, ‘If you can make it work with no tubes of toothpaste, no spools of floss, no running water and no spitting, we’re in,” she said.
Five years later, Pariseau, now a resident of the Park City area and a volunteer at the People’s Health Clinic, is trying again. Over the past few years, she worked with students in the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies program at Park City High School to design a disposable toothbrush/flossing tool that doesn’t require water or spitting. The bristles of the brush, which are designed for children but can be used by anyone, are pre-pasted with xylitol, an FDA-approved compound that is proven to reduce bacteria that cause cavities and safe to swallow.
“We designed it in children in mind, especially for ease of use in the classroom,” she said. “But you can take this in the console of a truck, a purse, anywhere to be able to brush and floss after meals that we consume away from home. It’s time that we let brushing and flossing out of the bathroom.”
While Pariseau intends to sell the toothbrushes through her company, TeethFirst, she is also aiming to get them into the hands of as many local children as possible. She is seeking to raise $40,000 through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and if she hits her goal, she hopes to partner with schools to put a supervised tooth brushing program into every kindergarten class in Summit County.
The goal would be to provide simple oral health care for students, especially those whose families can’t afford dental insurance. And if the program in Scotland proves to be an accurate example, it could dramatically reduce cases of tooth decay, which afflicts a large percentage of children and comes with a host of negative effects.
“If we start putting a system like this in the schools, then all the kids get to brush at least once a day for the correct amount of time, under supervision, and they also floss,” she said. “And they learn to do that as a routine. That is what is going to change the dynamics of oral health.”
For information on the Kickstarter project, visit kickstarter.com and search Marielle Pariseau’s name.
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