February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and along with flossing demonstrations and free toothbrushes, some elementary-school kids will get a special visit from the local Tooth Fairy. Aimee Myles, 38, is the health education specialist for Butte County’s Health and Disability Prevention Program. Myles was born in Bakersfield but grew up in Oroville. The Chico State graduate got her degree in psychology with a minor in health science and spent her last semester interning with the Department of Public Heath and has been working there for the past 12 years. Her duties as a health-education specialist range from educating parents to planning dental-health checks at local schools. But her favorite part of her job includes presenting to preschoolers as the popular Tooth Fairy.
What made you want to be so involved with children’s dental care?
Dental care has always been a passion of mine—I think teeth are very important, and it’s something that often gets neglected. I’ve seen too many young children who have extreme dental decay, which causes them horrible pain, and the only way to fix it is to be admitted to a hospital. It’s heartbreaking to see these young children less than 6 years old have to go through something like that. Being the Tooth Fairy is a great way to reach kids.
How does it feel to put on the costume?
I really get into character and it’s actually a lot of fun. The children are just drawn to the costume. Their eyes really open up and they listen to what I have to say. I’m no different from any other person in a costume, like Snow White or Mickey Mouse, but the kids are receptive to the message.
And what is that message?
Prevention is key and baby teeth are very important and not to be neglected. They are going to fall out, but you have to take care of them. No one wants their child in pain, and if they get cavities at a young age, chances are they will be in pain. It’s very important to take care of the baby teeth.
So what does the Tooth Fairy do?
The Tooth Fairy is very busy. When school ends she goes to different preschools and reads a book to the children about how the Tooth Fairy takes their baby teeth and turns them into stars. The message is to take care of your teeth and make sure they are clean, shiny and white so they can become bright stars one day. It’s very rewarding.
How do people react to the costume?
The children stop what they’re doing, turn around and say, “Look at the fairy.” Sometimes I get called a fairy princess and their eyes just sparkle. The Tooth Fairy is very popular. I actually wore the costume to the Silver Dollar Fair last year and I was asked to take pictures with entire families.
Ever encounter a disgruntled toddler who maybe didn’t get the money under his or her pillow?
Sometimes kids compare how much they’ve gotten, but it hasn’t been a major issue. I have noticed that kids today get a lot more money than I did.