Good oral hygiene is the foundation around which good oral health is maintained. For Dental Depot, community involvement and education is just as important to us as the care we provide in our offices. And for years, Dental Depot has provided Oklahoma school children with an opportunity to learn about their dental hygiene from the very best — Smiley O’Riley.
The Smiley O’Riley program got its start when Linda Bryant, a Dental Depot hygienist with a strong background in volunteering, began visiting Oklahoma City area students in their classrooms to teach the children how to take care of their smiles.
“I was the first Smiley O’Riley,” Linda said. “I didn’t wear a costume, but I had a puppet and his name was Doogan the Dog.”
Linda would tell the students a story about how Doogan had an accident that broke his front tooth, and how he had to see the dentist. She would use the story to teach the children what they could do to keep their smiles healthy and strong.
Soon enough, Linda’s educational visits became the Smiley O’Riley educational program, complete with a railroad engineer costume, characteristic personality, an educational magic show, and even dental hygiene kids we like to call Smiley bags. Over the years, Smiley O’Riley — affectionately known as Dental Depot’s Clown Conductor — has been played by several different team members with hearts of gold — and fairly decent juggling skills.
Today, Smiley O’Riley can be seen walking in parades with his Dental Depot pals, and at community events like the Oklahoma State Fair, the Oklahoma Railway Museum’s holiday trains and even at the Harn Homestead’s Territorial Christmas.
But the most important part of Smiley’s job is to connect with the communities that Dental Depot serves, and to educate area children on the importance of good oral hygiene.
All year round, Smiley O’Riley visits kids across the state in their classrooms, auditoriums, daycares and churches to teach them the importance of taking care of their teeth and how to do it. The two age-appropriate, 30-minute programs use magic, silliness and a healthy dose of group participation to make learning fun. At the end of Smiley’s visit, each child leaves with a Smiley Bag, which includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, a magnet with all of our locations and contact information, a coloring sheet and a coupon for a free spin brush at their next visit.
And the best part? It’s free! In order to make sure as many kids have the know-how and the tools to succeed, Dental Depot puts on the Smiley O’Riley program at no cost to the schools or students’ families.
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which means there’s no better time to schedule a Smiley Show!