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A Healthy Smile

Beginning Tuesday and continuing until the end of February, the Ironton Health Department is giving away toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss to anyone who comes to the department.

Just in time to combat cavities from all that Valentine’s Day candy, the Ironton Health Department has everything you need for healthy teeth.

Beginning Tuesday and continuing until the end of February, the health department is giving away toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss to anyone who comes to the department.

“We’ve done this before but we’re making it a priority now,” Health Commissioner Laura Brown said. “Even if they don’t have services here they can still stop by and get the dental hygiene items.”

Brown said the items would be a help to parents who might not always remember to replace their child’s toothbrush.

“I don’t think parents think of that,” Brown said. “Parents don’t put it on the top of their list, so kids are using them for six months or a year and you’re supposed to change them more often.”

The supplies are a donation from a nonprofit organization called Grandma’s Gifts.

Each year beginning in October, Grandma’s Gifts collects thousands of dollars worth of dental hygiene items for its Trick-or-Teeth program. The donated items are then dispersed to many food pantries, health departments, schools and other organizations within Appalachian counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. The dental hygiene items are just one way the organization aims to achieve its goal of fighting poverty in Appalachia.

Founder and executive director Emily Douglas said donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss came in from local entities like Dawson-Bryant Elementary School and Liebert Corporation and as far away as China and Australia.

“It’s really cool because it’s stuff from all over the world,” Douglas said. “Iceland, Oman, Germany, China, Australia. It really is Appalachian expatriates who have moved all over the world. They feel connected to the area and this is the way they pay homage.”

The idea for Trick-or-Teeth came from Douglas’ teacher, who suggested Grandma’s Gifts plan a program for the month of October.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you collect toothbrushes and toothpaste?’ and I said, ‘Sounds good to me,’” Douglas said.

The program is now in its fifth year. In 2010, Trick-or-Teeth brought in more than $38,000 worth of dental hygiene items — more than 11,000 pieces.

“The whole thing is we just want kids to be healthy, we want anyone to be healthy,” Douglas said.

For more information about Grandma’s Gift e-mail info@GrandmasGifts.org or call (614) 388-9007.

The Ironton Health Department is located at 2120 S. Eighth St.