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Nurturing Oral Health and Community Well-Being

By: Ren Reyes- President, Oklahoma Dental Hygienists’ Association  

One of the significant hurdles faced by our communities today is oral health literacy. Approximately only 1 in 10 adults in the United States can fully comprehend written material regarding oral health. Improving oral health literacy is essential to giving children and adults the tools needed to improve dental and overall health in Oklahoma. Parents and children should be consistently engaged in oral health education to support effortless integration into daily routines. Public health education on oral health is essential to empowering children and their caretakers to have a positive and proactive attitude towards their dental health.

I strongly believe in the efficacy of Head Start programs in instilling lifelong oral health habits. Currently, Oklahoma has 394 HeadStart centers across the state with over 14,000 students enrolled. There are several resources that HeadStart centers can share with parents to educate and promote healthy dental habits in children. One powerful resource we frequently employ is the “Brush, Book, Bed” method. This not only teaches children the importance of dental hygiene but also emphasizes the bonding time with parents during bedtime reading. It’s a comprehensive approach that lays the groundwork for a lifetime of good oral health practices and positive experiences. Providing a resource to parents that shows how dental hygiene can be a positive bonding experience with their children can be a powerful tool in empowering parents to instill good dental behaviors and routines for their children.

I am a firm advocate for active community engagement and encourage everyone to get involved. The potential to make a positive impact on one person at a time is immense. Through my experiences, I’ve witnessed the power of collaboration among various community agencies in Oklahoma. This collective effort to serve the community is not just inspiring but also a testament to our ability to bring about positive change.

My journey, from a personal interest in dentistry to actively contributing to oral health education in Oklahoma, reflects the transformative power of community service. By addressing the barrier of oral education and promoting effective programs, like Head Start, I aim to make a difference in individual lives and foster a sense of collective responsibility toward oral health within our community. Let my story inspire you to actively engage in serving your community and contribute to the well-being of those around you, recognizing the positive ripple effect that can result from such endeavors.


Ren Reyes, MBA, HCA, FSGBS, RDH currently serves as the Oklahoma Dental Hygienists’ Association President and Oklahoma Dental Hygiene Liaison for the Federal Head Start programs. She is actively involved in providing oral hygiene education, training for Head Start staff, and participating in events for Head Start families across the state.