…being a second-grader. You love puppies, ice-cream and most anything pink. You’re a whiz at hopscotch and you love to read. Like most children your age, you dream about what you want to be when you grow up. But instead of feeling limitless in your pursuit of your dreams, you allow your shyness, insecurity and lack of self-confidence to re-define those dreams.
You don’t raise your hand when your teacher asks questions, even though you know the answers. You don’t volunteer to stand in the front of the class next to the American flag and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. You don’t try out for band or choir either. And although you have memorized every word of the leading role, you don’t try out for the school play. You underestimate your potential and your self-worth. With no recognition or chance to shine, you rarely smile.
In fact, you avoid it at all cost, even on school picture day. Especially on school picture day. Because you have a secret. A secret that is shared by many underprivileged boys and girls across the nation. Your secret: you have never seen a dentist. You don’t even have your very own toothbrush.
What you do have is cavities, multiple cavities that have gone untreated. You are often distracted by pain in your teeth and gums. You are filled with worry and anxiety that you will be made fun of when you speak due to your protruding front teeth. Or course, you’re too young to know that these things, if left untreated, can lead to speech impediments, as well as such health-related issues as increased risk of heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, cancer and dementia. And, of course, your already low self-esteem will fall even lower.
What you also don’t know is that hope and care are available. You don’t know that there are people who want to see you smile, who want to see and help you fulfill your dreams. You don’t realize that there are places that can give you the attention, care and information you need. There are dentists, hygienists and others who can provide you and your parents the knowledge and information you need to care for your teeth and overall health, and who can do this without judging you. But you don’t know how to reach them.