Seventeen-year-old Brooklynn Gross hopes to be an English teacher one day, but she’s already using her writing and teaching skills to make a difference. The daughter of a dental hygienist, Brooklynn grew up learning all about having a healthy smile, but she knew there were kids in her home town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, suffering from painful tooth decay because they weren’t taking proper care of their teeth.
With illustrations by Sandie Childs, her elementary art teacher, Brooklyn wrote a book that would show kids what happens when they forget to brush. Her book, “Billy’s Cavity Carnival,” follows two germs as they party all night in a young boy’s mouth, feeding off the sugar left behind from all the candy he ate that day. While presented in a fun way that kids love, her point is well made – daily brushing and flossing are important.
In addition to her book, Brooklynn created a program called Sugar Shock where she educates children and parents in her community about sugar. She gives presentations at local schools and community events, and even appeared in a television commercial for South Dakota Public Broadcasting highlighting good oral health and visiting the dentist.
“There is so much students can do to raise awareness about dental health,” Brooklynn said. “They can give brushing and flossing demonstrations to younger kids or educate their peers about the dangers of oral piercings and the importance of wearing mouth guards during sports. Students can make posters, give presentations, post information on their school’s website and social media, or host activities at community events.”
America’s ToothFairy caught up with Brooklynn at the Future Career and Community Leaders (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference in Nashville in July. More than 10,000 youth, teachers and advisors attended, many of them connecting with America’s ToothFairy to learn how they can promote children’s oral health in their communities. Brooklynn went home with an array of America’s ToothFairy educational materials to use in her school visits, including a ToothFairy 101 Community Education Kit and tooth puppet. “I am excited to use the kit and tooth puppet to teach children about dental health,” she said.
Brooklynn is also doing good with the proceeds of her book. She is donating 100% of the proceeds to charities that benefit underserved children in South Dakota. To order a copy of Billy’s Cavity Carnival, email Brooklynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.