Dr. Howard Brooks was once one of those elementary school students to whom he now preaches the importance of caring for their teeth and gums.
Brooks attended Winthrop schools (WHS Class of 1977) and studied pre-med at UMass/Amherst before graduating from the Boston University School of Graduate Dentistry in 1987. Every year since then Brooks has been visiting local schools in coordination with National Dental Health Care Month.
This past Monday Brooks kept the rapt attention of 320 Gorman/Fort Banks students in three separate 45-minute presentations. Last week, Cummings School children were the beneficiaries of his knowledge.
At the end of his address at Gorman/Fort Banks, there was a heartwarming “Thank you, Dr. Brooks,” in unison from the appreciative students. With his creative dental “props”, apples and bananas for those who answer questions correctly, and free tooth brushes for all, Brooks enjoyed a celebrity-caliber reception from the youths.
Ilene Pearson, principal, said the students look forward to Dr. Brooks’ visit each year.
“His visit to our school is something the kids look forward to great anticipation,” said Gorman/Fort Banks Principal Ilene Pearson, who watched as Dr. Brooks gave his dental presentation to 140 second-graders. “He makes learning about teeth fun, interesting, and educational. We’re grateful to him for taking time from his busy schedule to visit our school and speak with our students.”
Brooks’s inspiration to reach out to students and enlighten them about dental care and proper nutrition stems from his days a dental student at BU.
“There was a pediatric dentist, Dr. Barasso, and he talked about his visits to the Belmont schools and asked if anyone would be interested in joining him,” recalled Brooks. “I said, ‘that sounds like a great thing to do for the community and a nice way to brush and floss and take care of their teeth.’’’
Brooks pledged that when he graduated from dental school he would conduct visits to Winthrop schools.
“I wanted to give back to the community and make sure the kids are eating the proper foods, brushing and flossing properly,” said Brooks. “At that point I made a decision to pursue this form of education for the kids.”
Brooks began the visitation program at the Willis School and the Dalrymple School (“That used to be the Highland School, which was my alma mater,” he said), talking to students up to fifth grade in conjunction with National Dental Health Month.
Brooks followed his father Dr. Barry Brooks in to the dental profession. The practice is located at 54 Woodside Avenue in Winthrop Center, and has been existence at the same location since1959.
“My father still practices a day or two a week and he loves it,” said Brooks.
Brooks said he makes it a point to cover virtually all aspects of dental care in his annual Winthrop students.
“We discuss brushing, flossing, nutrition, what plaque is, how cavities are formed, and why it’s important to go the dentist,” said Brooks.
At the Gorman/Fort Banks, Brooks had some of the students act as teeth in a flossing demonstration. Smiles abounded in the audience. Dr. Brooks, whose life has been dedicated to preserving those very smiles and promoting dental health, had made their day.
And there may have even been a future dentist in the group.