Clay County High School student promotes oral health awareness in her community

“I’ve always said, ‘your smile is the first thing that everybody sees.’ But more important than that, your mouth can lead to so many other different things that you wouldn’t think about,” said Avery Janutolo, a junior at Clay County High School.

As a young child, oral health became a priority for Avery, and her commitment to maintaining a daily dental care routine continues today as a teenager. “I’ve always been crazy about my mouth. If you know me, you know that’s just one of my things,” she said. Growing up in Manchester, Kentucky she recognized the lack of oral health resources and education in her community. Last year, Avery heard about a new oral health initiative in Clay County and knew she needed to be a part of it.

In February of 2022, Volunteers of America Mid-States (VOA) partnered with Kentucky Beverage Association (KBA) and Av?sis to launch Healthy Mouth, Healthy You, an initiative focused on promoting the importance of oral health and making healthy choices. With the help of Red Bird Clinic, AdventHealth Manchester and many other committed Kentucky business and community leaders, an Oral Health Coalition was formed to help highlight Healthy Mouth, Healthy You and educate the community on the impact oral health has on your overall physical health.

“I remember getting on one of the Zoom meetings and hearing what everybody said about how people are struggling. Some of us don’t realize how privileged we are to get dental care,” she said. “The fact that it’s not available to some people. I just thought that was so unfair, and it drove me to want to help even more.”

Avery joined the Oral Health Coalition as a youth ambassador with the goal of teaching children about proper dental care. She travels to elementary schools in her community to teach kids how to build positive oral health habits like brushing their teeth, flossing and eating healthy foods.

“When I leave school, I’ll go to the elementary schools,” Avery said. “I have story books for children, and I bring toothbrushes,” she said. “I can sit and read to them and talk about the importance of keeping their teeth healthy.”

On April 27, Avery and three of her friends will be at the Health and Wellness Fair promoting Healthy Mouth, Healthy You. “We are going to have a booth setup there,” she said. “We are going to bring toothbrushes, toothpaste and we’re hoping to have crafts or the younger people.”

This year’s Health and Wellness event will be in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Organizations like VOA, AdventHealth Manchester, KBA, Av?sis and so many others will be at EKU Manchester’s campus from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. providing health resources, dental screenings and more to the community. Stop by to see Avery and other committed Clay County residents dedicated to creating a healthier Southeast Kentucky.

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Ben Keeton

Publisher at Medical News
Ben is the publisher of Medical News and focuses on the business of healthcare in Kentucky.
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