(February 15, 2017) — Dr. Marielle Pariseau is raising awareness for National Children’s Dental Health Month in February with a Kickstarter Campaign. Oh’Pal (Oral Health Pal) is a waterless, disposable toothbrush specifically designed to make it easy, quick and mess-free to floss and brush in the classroom (or on the go).The goal of the Kickstarter Campaign is to raise $40,000 to launch Supervised Flossing and Brushing Programs in all Kindergarten classrooms across all three School Districts in Summit County.
“Oh’Pal stemmed from a lifetime interest in preventive care,” Dr. Pariseau said. “All children are born free of tooth decay. Our job as individuals, parents, educators and dentists, is to keep them that way. But we are failing.”
Tooth decay is the number one childhood disease in America and the number one use of operating room time in children’s hospitals is dentistry under general anesthesia. In addition, Summit County has the highest percentage of residents without health insurance in all of Utah, meaning many Summit County children don’t benefit from regular dental visits. Dr. Pariseau, retired dentist from Canada now living in Utah, believes proper brushing and flossing under supervision at school could prevent many potential oral health issues with these children.
“With Oh’Pal, flossing and especially brushing can be done away from a home bathroom, “Dr. Pariseau said. “Eliminating the need for a sink and running water makes oral hygiene in the classroom, at work, or on the go not only possible but also very convenient.”
After seeing successful results from school brushing programs in Scotland, Dr. Pariseau wondered how flossing could be added to make an even bigger impact on childhood oral health. She imagined a special toothbrush with a brush head pre-pasted with Xylitol (FDA-approved waterless toothpaste that can be swallowed) and a floss tail on the other end of the handle.
Dr. Pariseau enlisted the help of two teams of High School Students in the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS). The first team, comprised of engineering students, went into rapid prototyping for a solution after researching the problem. The second team made up of business students, designed and ran surveys in the community. One-hundred and two kindergartners from McPolin Elementary served as alpha and beta testers and helped inform the design during the rapid prototyping phase of the project. Insa Riepen of Recycle Utah aided Dr. Pariseau in making Oh’Pal disposable, recyclable and earth-friendly.
“Supervised flossing and brushing programs will make a difference,” Dr. Pariseau said. “For some children, classroom flossing and brushing will be the only oral hygiene they will benefit from that day.
In addition to offering Oh’Pal at a reduced price during the Kickstarter Campaign, Dr. Pariseau and her Company, TeethFirst®, will donate one Oh’Pal to a school program for every Oh’Pal bought. Dr. Pariseau’s dream is to see programs launched beyond the three School Districts in Summit County, starting with Wasatch County when funds are available.