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High School, Preschool Students Learn About Pediatric Dentistry

To celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month, Tierney Marzigliano’s Dental Chairside Assisting class at the Bixhorn Technical Center (BTC) welcomed preschoolers from the Early Childhood Education class at Milliken Technical Center (MTC) to learn about maintaining a healthy smile. The dental students first led the young children in several activities to promote oral hygiene, then brought them into the dental office to conduct a brief checkup. Dental Chairside Assisting and Early Childhood Education are two programs offered by the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, the Career and Technical Education Program of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. Dental Chairside Assisting is offered at the Bellport campus, and Early Childhood Education is offered in Oakdale and Riverhead.

“Sometimes little kids find going to the dentist scary,” said Marzigliano. “So, first we bring them into our group instruction room, where we have balloons, stuffed animals, and games to introduce them to the importance of going to the dentist.”

After learning how to care for their teeth, the preschoolers were led into the Chairside Dental Assisting classroom – where they received a brief oral exam. To quell any fears about dental instruments, the students were instructed to touch them to the preschoolers’ fingernails to demonstrate that the procedure was painless. The dental students then inspected the youngsters’ mouths – counting all teeth, and getting familiar with working in such a small space.

“Pediatric dentistry has several challenges,” Marzigliano said. “In our class, we teach how to deal with excited little ones and how to build confidence in children who are fearful. These are all skills they’ll need to know when they work in the industry.” 


 A girl holding a shark stuffed animal instructs a young girl on proper brushing technique

Melody Eastor, South Country CSD, shows preschool student Lily, from Connetquot, how to properly brush the teeth of a shark puppet.


 A young girl brushes the teeth of a dinosaur stuffed animal

Hayley, a preschool student from the Early Childhood Education Program at MTC, practices brushing the teeth of a dinosaur.


A teacher instructs a student on how to give a dental exam to a young boy who is in a dental chair with green sunglasses on

Teacher Tierney Marzigliano (left) directs a student on how to give a dental exam to a student from the MTC preschool.