First graders at three Midlothian elementary schools were given free preventative tooth decay kits through the Fantastic Teeth Fan Club by members of Midlothian Masonic Lodge. The program was led by Bill Hileman.

The Masons assembled and delivered more than 225 dental hygiene kits to first graders at J.A. Vitovsky Elementary, J.R. Irvin Elementary, and Longbranch Elementary schools.

The Fantastic Teeth Fan Club, sponsored by Masonic Home and School of Texas (MHS), strives to prevent suffering from toothaches, reduce missed school days due to dental problems, and cut costs for dental treatment.

Preventative tooth decay kits contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, healthy teeth sticker, two-minute timer (optimal brushing time), “Tips for HealthyTeeth” educational information for parents in both Spanish and English, and a summary of MHS services.

Last year, Texas Masonic lodges partnered with MHS to distribute 129,113 Fantastic Teeth Fan Club dental kits and information to first graders in 1,575 schools across the state. In all, well over 500,000 of these kits have been provided to first graders by Masons since the program’s inception.

According to “Oral Health In America: A Report of the Surgeon General,” tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease — five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Poor children are affected by this epidemic more frequently than other children, with nearly 12 times more restricted-activity days due to dental issues than children from higher-income families. With more than 1.5 million Texas children living in poverty, there is a great need for preventive dental care.

Dental problems also directly affect success for children, with more than 51 million school hours lost each year to dental-related illness. Teachers have judged both classroom performance and classroom behavior to be significantly poorer among children in need of dental care. Pain and suffering due to untreated dental disease can also lead to problems in eating and speaking.

Masonic Home and School of Texas is a nonprofit organization with a history of helping children across Texas for more than 100 years. Contact MHS by calling toll-free 1.877.203.9111; sending an email to info@mhstx.org; or by visiting the website, www.mhstx.org.