U.S. soldiers teach dental hygiene to Kosovo students

Even years after the worst fighting in the deadly conflict in the Balkans has passed, U.S. troops remain stationed there as part of a multinational detachment. As part of their deployment, a U.S. Army dentist and 22 soldiers visited a school in Kosovo to teach first-graders about flossing and oral hygiene.

"We were able to come out to the school and teach oral hygiene to about 30 different kids in two different class rooms," said U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Steidley, a dentist assigned to the Multinational Battle Group-East (MNBG-E), in a news release.

"Flossing wasn't something they were too familiar with, so we were able to introduce that to them, which is important for their teeth and overall health," he said.

Rilindja School has a total of 631 students across three different locations in Kosovo. This is the first time soldiers from MNBG-E have partnered with the school for an event like this.

Steidley's favorite part of the event was the one-on-one interaction with the children and showing the kids individually how to floss and brush their teeth. The soldiers then sat down with the students and helped them practice flossing on a custom dental mold.

"There was quite a bit of preparation," Dr. Steidley said. "I had to figure out how I was going to teach the kids. I had to make individual casts for each kid so they had a cast to brush on and floss on. I also had to get the donations of the toothbrushes and floss, create the oral hygiene pamphlet which went into each different package, and have that translated into Albanian for the kids."

Ruzhdi Grishta, principal of Rilindja School, said it was a great pleasure to have the soldiers come, and the students were very excited.

"I would like to thank the Americans for this cooperation and their willingness to come here today to teach the students about dental hygiene, and we hope we will continue this cooperation," Grishta said in the release.

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