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Tooth Fairy gives Sarah J. Anderson Elementary students a reason to smile

Delta Dental of Washington’s Tooth Fairy Experience teaches kids around the state about oral hygiene

By Chrissy Booker, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 28, 2024, 9:22pm
5 Photos
The Tooth Fairy, center, is all smiles Wednesday at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School in Hazel Dell. Tooth Fairy Jasmine, portrayed by Jasmine Lomax, is one of seven fairies who travel across the state and teach students about the importance of oral health.
The Tooth Fairy, center, is all smiles Wednesday at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School in Hazel Dell. Tooth Fairy Jasmine, portrayed by Jasmine Lomax, is one of seven fairies who travel across the state and teach students about the importance of oral health. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When kids lose a tooth, they leave it under their pillow and hope the Tooth Fairy pays them a visit during the night. Or at least that’s how it usually goes.

For kindergartners at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School, a visit from the Tooth Fairy happened right outside their classroom. Tooth Fairy Jasmine flew into the halls on a Wednesday afternoon to teach the youngsters about the importance of oral health.

The presentation was a part of Delta Dental of Washington’s traveling Tooth Fairy Experience, a program created in 2019 to promote healthy oral habits for kindergarten-through-second-grade students across Washington. Since the program started, it has reached 3,000 students in Clark County and 70,000 across the state.

The Tooth Fairy (aka Jasmine Lomax) demonstrated to students the proper way to brush and floss, and explained the importance of using circular movements instead of just up and down.

“This tooth is wiggly. It’s about to come out,” one student told her. Another student asked, “Why haven’t any of mine fallen out yet?”

“Remember, everyone’s body is different, so you have to be patient,” Tooth Fairy Jasmine explained.

She continued her presentation, emphasizing points with sweeping hand gestures. Then, she let students feel the bristles of a giant toothbrush.

Some presentations are done in multiple languages, including Spanish and American Sign Language. (In 2022, the Tooth Fairy Experience traveled to the Washington School for the Deaf, where students learned the importance of oral hygiene through a presentation done entirely in ASL.)

After Tooth Fairy Jasmine’s talk, students lined up to pick out toothbrushes to take home.

The whole experience is tailored to keep kids engaged, said Marya Purrington, Delta Dental’s community marketing manager.

“The Tooth Fairy Experience makes pediatric dental health fun and interactive, and it teaches good dental health habits to kids at a very early age,” Purrington said.

Tooth Fairy Jasmine read aloud a picture book called “Smile Scouts,” which told the story of tooth fairy “coaches” who scouted kids with good oral health to join the smile team.

In partnership with marketing firm Why For Good, the Tooth Fairy Experience was created to address the lack of education about oral hygiene for children.

At least 50 percent of children in third grade and below have at least one cavity. That figure is higher in underserved and rural communities. Dental decay can lead to a lack of sleep, causing kids to miss school days and potentially lower their academic success, according to Kira Bottles, senior account manager at Why For Good.

Jasmine isn’t the only tooth fairy. Seven fairies from tooth fairy headquarters travel across the state to schools and community centers. All of the fairies come from different ethnic backgrounds, which is important to make sure kids feel represented, Purrington said.

Kindergarten teacher Marla Mijangos said she was impressed by the entire presentation.

“I think my students were really excited to see the real Tooth Fairy. It was a great way for them to learn about what’s good and bad for your teeth health,” Mijangos said.

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According to a poll conducted by Delta Dental, the value of a lost tooth has increased in Washington. The average value of a single lost tooth during the past year rose 37 percent to $8.54, up from $6.23 last year. Nationwide, the value of a lost tooth declined by 6 percent from $6.23 to $5.84.

For parents with children who have recently lost a tooth, Delta Dental of Washington offers free letters from the Tooth Fairy that can be mailed directly to your child. Delta Dental offers letters for a first lost tooth and a good dental checkup and offers a version with words of encouragement for a less-than-positive dental exam.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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