It isn't unusual for Anna and Kristy to arrive in one of these remote village checkpoints to find a handmade poster from a local youngster hung on the wall and cheering them on. Often, a handful of village kids are waiting to greet them and meet their first real life identical twins and all their amazing dogs. Most of these villages are so small and so remote, that the Iditarod coming through every year, or every other year, is the most exciting thing some of these kids see and experience all year long.
The twins were talking to me about all of this after last year's race, and mentioned how it would be nice to plan in advance so they would have something to give these kids when they come through to make it all more memorable and special. It was a really good idea, and it got us to thinking...
Over the years, the twins and this Mad Blogger have also made friends with a couple dental professionals that have worked in these remote villages. They have told stories about how tough dental care can be, especially for kids, in these remote places. Cities started adding fluoride to tap water in the US in the 1940s when it was realized this helps prevent tooth decay, but when you're drinking well water from your house in a "town" of 51 people, you don't get that. Not to mention these villages almost never have a resident dentist, only one traveling through periodically. These and other issues have led to an ongoing challenge in providing both oral hygiene education and services.
It didn't take too long for us to combine these two notions and come up with a new campaign for the 48th Iditarod... Seeing Double Smiles! This year, the twins put a little extra something in their drop bags for the checkpoints where they anticipated they would camp a while and likely meet some local kids. They each have a supply of little pouches to hand out, and each one contains a small flyer with pictures of the twins and a note reminding kids to brush, an "I brushed today!" sticker, some paw print stickers, and a brand new toothbrush! Many of the pouches also contain a travel-size toothpaste or floss. What better way to show these kids they're special than giving them something that's good for them?!
Kristy and Anna also know that there are kids (and adults!) all over the place cheering them on and following the race. They're very thankful for all of you guys, and I definitely want to give a Seeing Double Shout Out to all the students and teachers out there that have made the Iditarod a part of their classrooms.
Whether you're a kid in Alaska getting one of our care packs out on the trail or a kid watching with your family and friends from where ever you live - let's remind everyone that no matter what you do, you've gotta take care of your teeth!
To encourage everyone, I'm starting a contest!! Be sure to get your mom, dad, or guardian's approval first. Then, post a picture of you doing something good for your teeth to Instagram, and be sure to tag it @SeeingDoubleSledDogRacing and #SeeingDoubleSmiles. Brushing, flossing, using mouthwash. Get creative! If you're not on Instagram, you can still send it to me via email and I'll highlight some of what I receive on Seeing Double's Instagram feed. Please note, Mad Blogger isn't on Twitter or FaceBook, so please post there, too, but know that I probably won't stumble across it.
When the twins are both into Nome, I'll go through all of the submissions and pick two winners. Each winner will receive a Seeing Double Bondi Band!!
Are Anna and Kristy brushing their teeth while they're out on the trail? You better believe it. They may not shower for 10 days, but neglecting their teeth for that long? No way. In fact, they told me once that they'll often carry those small brushes that come already with paste on them in their jackets. That way, if they're on the back of the sled and fighting to stay awake, they can pull one out and use it. The action of doing something, that minty fresh pop in the face, and that clean-mouth feeling you get after brushing is a great way to give yourself a little wake-up. It's not like they can hit the Starbucks mush-thru for a coffee after all.
Did you know that dental hygiene is just as important for your pets? No one enjoys dog breath, even your dog. Tooth decay can lead to pain for your pet and tooth loss. The bacteria in plaque has also been shown to enter the bloodstream of dogs and cats and can spread to vital organs, potentially damaging the organs and making your pet sick. Talk to your vet about your pet's teeth and what you should be doing to keep them healthy. From brushing your pet's teeth with special pastes that are safe for them, giving them dental treats and chews, to periodic cleanings, there are several options out there. Many groomers are now also able to offer teeth cleanings that don't involve heavily sedating your pet.
Seeing Double wants to thank all of the following for contributing toothbrushes and paste to this campaign. Thanks to you, 200 kids in remote Alaska villages can get a new toothbrush this year!
The Napieralski Family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Dr. Allison Gordon-Lopez, of Manhattan Dental Spa, with GUM Brand.
Bay Dental Associates of Ashland, Wisconsin.
And special thanks to Mom in Port Wing, Wisconsin, for collecting all of the donations and assembling the goodies so they where ready to go right into the drop bags.