Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Classroom Dentist Demo (with Peanut Butter!)

Recently GirlyGirl came home from school saying that the pediatric dentist office had visited her classroom for Dental Health Month. The only thing she told me about their visit was that they used peanut butter for a demonstration. She said all the kids got to participate in the demo except for the three kids in her class with a known peanut allergy. She didn't seem too upset by it, but she also didn't tell me anything else that happened that day. This moment stuck out in her mind.

I emailed the teacher to ask what happened. She responded that they did in fact use peanut butter for a demonstration (showing that sticky stuff can be hard to get off your teeth). The teacher immediately spoke up and mentioned that three kids have a peanut allergy. She made sure none of these kids participated in the demo.  She says now that she wishes she had just stopped the demonstration, but she was caught off guard and didn't react fast enough.

She told them afterwards that it would be a good idea to check with the teacher before using peanut butter or to find an alternative. She also told them that while none of her kids have an airborne allergy, some kids can't even be in the same room with peanuts. She told me that one of the boys with a peanut allergy was scared during this demo and had to sit with the her at her desk. 

I thanked the teacher for helping keep these kiddos safe during this visit. I wish teachers weren't put in this position in the first place.

Cutie had a dentist appointment today (at the same office that made the classroom visits), and one of the hygienists was talking about this demo with another parent (they went to multiple schools in town). I chimed in saying that two of my kids are allergic to peanuts. She kind of blew me off saying that they always ask the teacher first (which they didn't at our school) and that none of the kids actually participated in the demo (which may have true in the class she went to, but not in our classroom). I kindly suggested that maybe they could use something as an alternative. She didn't respond to that. So I offered some suggestions. She said those might be too hard to clean of the toothbrush they use for the demonstration.  She wasn't snotty or anything, just ignorant. 

A few minutes later, the other mom there said that her daughter also has a peanut allergy. She said they use almond butter as an alternative at their house. We shared some good ideas that we use at home. A different hygienist who was listening said that maybe they could use almond butter instead of peanut butter. I mentioned that other kids may have tree nut allergies. At least this gal was willing to think of alternatives. I also mentioned the airborne deal so they would think of that in the future as well.

I don't feel like I did a great job educating the staff, but hopefully I planted a seed for them to think about.  I may revisit this with the dentist who owns the clinic to see if there is anything I can do to help keep kids safe while they do their job of educating about dental health.

It seems so obvious to me that it is ridiculous to bring peanut butter into a school where there is an average of two kids per classroom with a food allergy.  Of course, I live and breath this reality.  I need to remember that not everyone is aware of this, and it is my job to help educate those around me who don't know.  I can only hope that those I am talking to listen.


  1. Oh my goodness! I'd never thought that pb would be used in a dental demonstration at school! That must have been very traumatic for the pn allergic children (that sweet little boy!). I can't believe, with all the news about peanut allergies, that people are still so ignorant! Good job planting the seed! Someone else will come along and water it, and soon it will grow. This is a good reminder for allergy parents that we all need to speak up when something like this happens. You never know if you're watering someone else's seed :) This would be a great post to share with the freedible community! And thank you for writing it! -Rebecca

    1. Good idea! I will post it to Freedible today! I surprises me too that this day in age, people are still so ignorant. We just need to keep educating!