Alex Hough's forehead wrinkled as he concentrated on moving the toothbrush back and forth on the stuffed tiger's teeth.
Alex, 3, was among the first in his group Thursday at The Learning Community, 2041 Reed Road, to practice his new teeth-brushing skills on one of the stuffed animals, and he was eager to show what he'd learned.
Four dental hygienists from Georgetown North Dental Group visited with a group of more than 35 preschool students ages 3 to 5 to help them brush up on their teeth-cleaning skills.
"Like this?" Alex asked before passing the stuffed tiger to his classmate.
Dental hygienist Ami Vachon nodded.
February is Children's Dental Health Month.
Vachon said she and her co-workers have visited several preschools in recent weeks to teach students about what to expect when visiting the dentist, when to brush and what foods are bad for little teeth.
Dozens of tiny hands shot up in the air as the dental hygienists asked how often students should brush their teeth.
"I usually brush my teeth in the morning," Katie Spitznaugle, 4, said.
Her classmate said his mom made him brush at night.
A third student said it's better to brush them in the morning and at night.
The dental hygienists agreed, suggesting that students brush their teeth before school and at bedtime for about two minutes – roughly as long as it takes them to sing their ABCs twice.
Kimani Flippen, 5, said she knows it's important to brush twice a day because she knows people who have had cavities.
"I don't have any cavities, though, because I brush my teeth every single day," Kimani explained.
Students watched as the dental hygienists showed them what to expect when arriving at the dentist's office – dressing one another in gloves, safety glasses, a mask and a dentist's coat.
Finally, they attached a dental bib, causing students to erupt in giggles at the thought of a grown-up wearing a bib.
"You look funny!" one of the students shouted.
After a description of how to properly brush teeth, students shifted into small groups where they worked to clean the teeth of stuffed animals, passing around a toothbrush and reminding their classmates to brush in small, soft circles from the front to the back of the mouth.
"So many of these students have never been exposed to the dentist," said Amber Oakley, another dental hygienist who visited the class Thursday. "We want to educate them."