It Starts With Your Mouth
It Starts With Your Mouth (ISWYM) is a collaboration between educators, activists, and dentists to excite, educate and expand access to care for American youth. ISWYM was started in 2017 after a Texas father took his sixteen-year-old daughter to the orthodontist seeking braces to correct her teeth only to find she had 14 cavities. He was astonished because she is an honor student, elite volleyball player, debate team member and very conscious of her appearance. Despite all the aforementioned and the fact she doesn’t drink soda, she still had a yuck mouth. She had her cavities filled, got her braces put on and now the issue was solved – or so the father thought.
The underlying issues became clear a few months later when the father was introduced to a Pediatric Board Certified dentist in North Carolina. This dentist is not just a run of the mill Pediatric Board Certified Dentist. Under the age of 30, she owns a practice that receives referrals from patients often traveling over 2 hours; she travels the world improving her knowledge of state-of-the-art medicine for children and was voted the 2018 recipient of Dentistry’s Outstanding D.D.S. Graduate of the Last Decade Award by the University she attended. After meeting her and having countless conversations in an effort to understand some of the issues that children face, it became clear that education is the key to prevent many illnesses that start in, and can be detected in the mouth. The scary thought was what would have happened to his daughter had she not needed braces and how many more children are developing lifelong illnesses at an early age.
The initial mission is to excite children about going to the dentist early in life so it becomes part of their lifestyle. The father, who has a BA in Education, thought it would be amazing to teach youth how their mouth also provides a perception of who they are. “It is not until you open your mouth that people really know you, start to form an opinion or validate how they see and will deal with you,” said the Texas father. It Starts With Your Mouth will seek to educate, empower and change how we see going to the dentist.
ISWYM will create a college loan repayment program for all staff who participate, including office assistants, dental assistants, dentists, educators and certified YP mentors as a show of appreciation. Loan repayment assistance will be based on a one-year commitment to ISWYM and be administered by Restoring Families Across America (RFAA Fund). RFAA Fund is a 501C3 that seeks to restore families across America by providing research and resources for rural, urban and suburban families allowing them to discover their purpose and assist them in fulfilling it. ISWYM hopes its loan repayment program and education will increase the number of individuals who desire to enter the dental industry.