When we think about taking care of our smiles, the first thing that comes to mind is brushing and flossing. Keeping up a good oral hygiene routine at home is the first step to a healthy smile. But there’s another step to having a healthy smile that sometimes gets forgotten—smile safety.
Our teeth and mouths are strong, but they can get injured just like the rest of our bodies. Things like riding a bike or playing sports are great ways to stay active. But it’s important to think about how to protect your mouth while doing them. Chloe Guzman, a fifth grader from Colorado Springs, Colorado knows this all too well.
When Chloe was nine years old, she was riding her bike when she flipped over her handlebars and broke her two front teeth! To help her feel better about her accident, Chloe turned to a book she had read many times called “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier.
“Smile” tells the story of Raina, a normal sixth grader who trips, falls, and badly injures her front two teeth. What follows is a long journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, headgear and a retainer with fake teeth attached. The story meant a lot to Chloe because she is also a normal kid who found herself dealing with broken teeth, braces and a fear of the dentist.
We talked with Chloe to learn about her dental emergency and why seeing other kids who are facing the same challenges she is can be comforting.
Thanks for taking with us, Chloe! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m in fifth grade and I like to draw and sketch anime. People call me a rubber band because I’m so flexible. I can do all three splits, a backbend, a handstand with one or two hands and a scorpion. I can do way more moves, but those moves are my favorite moves. I write my own songs and music. I love rap music and hip hop too. When I was a baby, music was the only thing that made me smile.
That’s so cool, Chloe! You can already do so many things—what do you think you want to do when you’re older?
When I grow up, I want to be a Ninja Warrior. My job right now is to babysit, but when I’m older, I want to become a waitress, a doctor, a nurse, anything medical. I love to sing too.
Tell us about what happened when you injured your teeth.
The scariest moment at the dentist was when I flipped over my handlebars on my bike and broke my two front teeth. I had to get four shots and I was so scared that I cried.
The first time I read “Smile” was when I was in second grade. A couple of months after my braces came off, I had my bike accident. When I broke my teeth, I remembered the story and how it was kind of like mine. It made me feel like I belonged because someone else broke their teeth in the book. It helped me know that it was going to be ok. I really relate to Raina (the main character in the story) and I feel like I am just like her.
Connecting with characters and stories can be so powerful. How do you take care of your teeth now that you’ve experienced braces and a dental emergency?
Well, I stopped chewing pencils, my nails and gum. I took care of my braces by using a metal tool to clean them at night. When I ate, I chewed smaller portions of food. Also, I try to stop braking on my handlebars when I ride my bike. I also take care of my teeth by eating healthy, brushing my teeth in the morning, afternoon and night and reading the book “Smile” because it reminds me of my childhood.
You are doing such a good job taking care of your smile! Why is it important to take care of your teeth and mouth?
It’s important to take care of my teeth so I don’t get cavities. Luckily, I never have.
What advice do you have for other kids who may be feeling upset or uncomfortable about something?
My advice for other kids is even if something bad happens to you, just keep going. What I’m saying is that when I broke my teeth on my bike, the next day I rode my bike again. I am not a person who gives up right away, I keep going.
We all know accidents can happen at any time. That’s why it’s important to wear a mouthguard if you’re playing sports or activities where a ball, stick or even an elbow can make contact with your face. It’s also a great idea to keep a dental emergency kit on hand. Stocking up on things like gauze, clean cloths, dental wax and pain reliever can be a big help. And don’t forget to take great care of your teeth and gums each day like Chloe does by brushing and flossing every day.
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