NORWALK — Children attending the Norwalk Catholic School Early Childhood Center learned about "cavity bugs" for National Children's Dental Health Month.

Denise Stine, co-owner of Stine Dental Health LLC, led educational programs at the center and Maplehurst Elementary. Monroeville Local Schools offered free dental check-ups to its students by coordinating with the dental outreach division of the Health Partners for Western Ohio.

"We want to make sure we offer what we can to the community," said Bob Butler, Monroeville Elementary School principal.

"We began working with the program in the fall by notifying families of this offering and asking them to fill out a permission form," he said. "Then we found dates that would work for their team to come to our school to see the students and work with them."

From Feb. 18-20, students were seen by a dentist and then had their teeth cleaned and sealed, if needed, by the Health Partners team.

"Communication went home to each child seen from the team on tips and suggestions as needed on a student-by-student basis. We offered this to every student in the district and had over 55 families take part in this offering in grades kindergarten through 12th grade," Butler said.

At Norwalk Catholic School Early Childhood Center, Stine taught preschoolers and kindergarten students about the impact that "cavity bugs" and sugar have on their teeth.

"Cavity bugs like to hide on our teeth and they like to hide on our tongues," she said.

Stine also demonstrated proper brushing techniques, saying the children should brush for a total of two minutes in small circles on each tooth, but not using a lot of pressure.

"Sing 'Happy Birthday' to yourself; that's about two minutes," she said. "If you brush for two minutes, you can brush away those cavity bugs."

Stine showed the students close-up photographs of patients' teeth with severe plaque build-up and tooth decay.

"That's gross," one student said.

Stine said soft drinks are the "No. 1 cavity-causer" and is "the worst thing you can do to your teeth." She also told the students the acid in pop is so strong it will eat through teeth enamel and "sugar helps fester the cavity bugs." Stine said drinking water washes away food and sugar from your teeth.

"Sweetened soda is to teeth as cigarettes are to lungs," according to a display that Stine brought to the center.