A Venezuelan Twist on Children’s Oral Health Folklore
It is our great pleasure to meet today with Dr. Josmely Visbal and hear about her passion for children’s health.
Dr. Visbal has settled into her new home in sunny Miami Florida, and is thrilled to engage in this new chapter in her career. She was raised in Venezuela and completed her Dental Medicine degree at Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. Once she began practicing dentistry in South America, she discovered that her true passion and calling was truly caring for children. Through her interactions with kids in her office and then the experience of becoming a mother to two young daughters, she became even more committed to improving children’s health through her experience and education.
Dr. Visbal moved to Florida in 2013 with her family with the intent of establishing a new dental practice to serve children in South Florida. Opening a new practice in the U.S. turned out to be more arduous than expected, given that her dental school education would need to be repeated in the United States. Staying true to her commitment, making a difference for kids, she committed her time to creating a primary school program for oral health education.
Her program “Your Favorite Tooth Fairy” offers both in person classroom sessions as well as remote presentations (Zoom or otherwise) that are available to classrooms everywhere. Josmely also authored a children’s book titled “Your Favorite Tooth Fairy and Her Friend El Raton Perez”. And Shazaam! Now the world has a mutli-cultural educational duo of the fabled Tooth Fairy and El Ratón Pérez , the equivalent of the Tooth Fairy in Spanish and Hispanic American cultures.
We spent a bit of time talking with Dr. Visbal and getting answers to questions curious readers want to know:
1. How did you first become interested in dentistry?
I have always been passionate about themes like health and well-being. I thought dentistry was my way to follow and here I am, a dentist as a profession and officially Tooth Fairy helper.
2. Do you remember the first time you thought kid’s oral health would be a focal point for you?
When I was studying at the Universidad Central de Venezuela I had two classes that I really loved: pediatric dentistry and orthodontics, but after becoming a mom I definitely focused my pasión on kids’ oral health.
3. Tell us what you’ve learned about how to teach great oral health habits to kids?
Talking with kids about oral hygiene habits is the best way to solve the public health problem of dental disease. Kids need guidance from a “friend” other than their dentist, that activates their creativity and stimulates the concept of early oral health .
4. Can you tell us about a specific school or organization that you’ve served with your program?
I have been attending different schools and children within different ages, every child is a new world. The first school that I visited was a special school that is a therapist center and behavior based school. It was an amazing experience because I felt able to deliver an effective message about the importance of taking care of our teeth and how we can do it in a fun way.
5. What inspires you?
Definitely my two daughters, my passion for dentistry and my love for kids.
6. What is the biggest challenge your program faces?
The biggest challenge has been the way to find sponsors, donations and economic support.
7. What age groups does your program cover? And how do you change your approach based on their age?
My program is geared to children between the ages of 3 to 11. For the little ones the program is storytelling mixed with the magic of Toothland, for the bigger ones it is focused on a scientist’s approach. I have divided the age groups between 3-6 and 6 and on. When talking to the older kids, they always have very interesting questions that, fortunately I as a dentist; am able to answer!
8. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
My thanks for people like you that continue to make the best in the lives of others by encouraging them to have healthy smiles and happy teeth forever.
9. Is there a question we should have asked but didn’t?
Yes – My goal is to have a dental van where kids can enjoy the experience and learn more about good oral habits.
Dr. Visbal does media appearances as well as educational children’s presentations. If you are looking for assistance in educating your group of kids you can reach Dr. Visbal at YFToothFairy@gmail.com
StarSmilez customers help children improve oral health through education and training.