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Health sciences students raise money to battle cavities

July 21, 2010
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Robin Sautter and Ryan Goodson.

Three Drake University students recently launched a contest to earn votes to raise money for their non-profit group Battle the Cavities focused on promoting oral health to kids.

The group is promoting the initiative on Dream Big Grow Here where they are asking for votes to earn money to help support their program and supplies. Read more about the project and vote online here.

"Our hope with this grant would be to visit diverse elementary schools in the Des Moines metro area," said Robin Sautter, a junior biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major from Lanesboro, Minn., who is involved in the project.

"We will give them brushing kits and teach them proper hygiene, so they start healthy habits early on!"

The students will visit elementary school classrooms this fall to distribute the kits and deliver presentations on proper oral hygiene.

The oral hygiene kits include a toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, container of floss and kid-friendly brushing and flossing how-to diagram.

Ryan Goodson, a Drake senior health sciences major, spearheaded the project and combined his interest in dentistry and compassion for helping people by organizing a non-profit group dedicated to promoting oral health.

Working alongside Goodson and Sautter is Dave Duevel of Roseville, Minn., a junior biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major.

Battle the Cavities previously received a $1,000 check from the United Way's Community Youth Venture Program, which was designed to encourage young people to start and manage their own organizations. The monetary grant has supported the assembly and distribution of 2,500 oral hygiene kits to children in the Des Moines community.

"There is a large and growing number of youth in the metro area who can't afford proper dental care, and inadequate care can lead to many negative consequences," said Goodson of Ankeny, Iowa.

Goodson, who is also pursuing a concentration in pre-dentistry, said that the organization's goal is to improve the oral health of children by educating them about proper brushing and flossing habits to decrease the chances of cavities and other dental problems.

Local dentist Chad Wagener is an adviser for the group, providing them with guidance on how to present dental hygiene information to children.

"This is a great project because kids need to get started early with good oral hygiene to enjoy healthy teeth and overall health for a lifetime," said Wagener, who practices at Ankeny Aesthetic Dentistry.

"Not all kids are given the opportunity to have new toothbrushes as often as they should, nor are they given proper instruction on usage and frequency of brushing, flossing and dietary habits. If we can get kids to understand the importance of oral hygiene, we will have healthier generations of people to come."