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A fairy tale becomes reality: The Shannon Kelly Toothfairys Cottage

Nov. 1, 2000
On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12, 2000, a major celebration will commemorate the opening of The Shannon Kelly Toothfairy`s Cottage ... and you are invited! The Cottage is located across the street from The Children`s Dental Center in Inglewood, Calif., just three miles east of Los Angeles International Airport.

On Nov. 12, a major celebration will take place ... and you are invited!

Cherilyn G. Sheets, DDS, and

Mark L. Moehlman, MBA

On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12, 2000, a major celebration will commemorate the opening of The Shannon Kelly Toothfairy`s Cottage ... and you are invited! The Cottage is located across the street from The Children`s Dental Center in Inglewood, Calif., just three miles east of Los Angeles International Airport.

The Toothfairy`s Cottage was the former private residence of Dr. and Mrs. James B. Sheets, founders of The Children`s Dental Center. The residence has been transformed into a magical place for the current "occupant," The Toothfairy, and has been designed for children of the working poor and their parents.

The Cottage is named after Shannon Kelly - an intelligent, sensitive, dynamic, caring, and greatly loved young woman whose short life touched countless people. She was a rising star in the world of dental manufacturing and gave countless hours beyond her long workdays to charities such as Operation Smile.

Family, friends, co-workers, and others helped raise money to transform the former residence into the Cottage. It is the fulfillment of a dream for many people, as well as the launching of an innovative child-parent educational program for preventive health and positive behavioral change.

The Shannon Kelly Toothfairy`s Cottage will use dentistry as the vehicle for changing children`s lives and provide them with the tools for a healthier and happier future. Simultaneously, it will expose children to an unlimited personal vision for their own lives and a life beyond their current surroundings. It will expose them to a life that can be theirs by making positive choices while young, keeping their boundless options open if they are willing to work for their dreams.

The Shannon Kelly Toothfairy`s Cottage will be a fun place - filled with excitement, energy, creative opportunities for learning, and guided discovery. It will constantly change because the programs will evolve and mature as they are used and evaluated for effectiveness. All of the preliminary educational programs are in the final stages of development. The Toothfairy`s programs will have a solid base of science, but be delivered with the help of fantasy. The "staff" at the Toothfairy`s Cottage includes: The Toothfairy, with all of her magical qualities; Dr. Hy Gene, the Toothfairy`s resident dentist and partner in the "Dental Practice"; and Professor Seemore Science, the Toothfairy`s resident researcher and teacher. In addition, a host of fantastic characters such as Suds the Dragon, Bubbles (Suds` sister with an attitude!), and Plakmen are among the supporting cast. The entire cast of characters has been copyrighted, along with all educational materials.

The educational materials will be provided to the dental profession at minimal fees so that other communities can use the materials developed at the Toothfairy`s Cottage. The goal is to share all ideas, concepts, and materials with communities across the country, in hopes that they will start their own Toothfairy Cottages. The Cottage also will provide replication workshops for the professional community for the clinical and educational components of The Children`s Dental Center.

The common theme taught at the clinical and educational sites will be the development of personal responsibility for health and the need for making positive life choices in order to be mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy.

Five years ago, The Children`s Dental Center was opened to serve the needs of children of the working poor - children who had no access to dental care through the current dental delivery systems. Today, the center treats more than 7,000 children annually, providing quality multidisciplinary care. Services range from preventive and educational programs to complex surgical/restorative reconstructions.

More than 100 children currently receive orthodontic care, and another 100 children are on the waiting list. The school screening and outreach programs evaluated thousands of children last year, referring hundreds with "access to care" into local dental offices.

This year, the in-house TCDC Sealant Program moved outside the walls of the center, becoming part of off-site outreach programs through a collaborative effort with the West LA Dental Hygiene and UCLA School of Dentistry. The USC School of Dentistry has been closely involved since the opening of the center through their problem-based learning programs, all of the graduate specialty programs, the dental hygiene program, and selected undergraduate special programs for their competency examinations. Additionally, the Loma Linda School of Dentistry provided graduate students from their Pediatric Dentistry Program when The Children`s Dental Center first opened, and the Cerritos Dental Hygiene Program has been sending students to provide basic dental hygiene and education to the children for the entire five years. Added to this fantastic university support, a staff of volunteer dentists from the surrounding communities offer their assistance, as well as a loyal, paid staff that provides continuity and quality control of programs.

The work of the center has been funded by generous donations of money and in-kind products from the dental profession and dental manufacturers, private donations, foundation support, local hospitals and businesses, and TCDC fundraising efforts. The Fairy Godmothers is a newly formed lay-support group that is headed by Sarah Purcell. The group runs an annual Golf for the Kids Fundraiser and other fundraising events.

The children who receive services at the center pay a fee of approximately $25 per visit. The center feels strongly that a fee should always be charged in order to maintain dignity and responsibility in the relationship between the patient and caregiver. However, no child is ever turned away for lack of funds. If a family cannot meet these minimum cash requirements, they can contribute to the center by helping out with many of the volunteer efforts that always require helping hands. It is a "hand-up" program, not a "hand-out" program.

The planned programs for The Toothfairy`s Cottage share a common thread with the programs originally instituted by the clinical division of The Children`s Dental Center - they are ambitious, desperately needed, and require the collective efforts of many people. Additionally, they have an excitement that only comes from an entrepreneurial spirit. The Toothfairy`s Cottage will use information that the dental profession knows will stop dental disease and deliver it in innovative ways to a population that desperately needs help.

For most children, preventive education will be combined with ongoing care at The Children`s Dental Center clinical facility across the street from The Cottage. In fact, while children are having their clinical needs met, the waiting family members will be engaged in educational activities across the street at The Toothfairy`s Cottage. The goal is to eliminate the "passive waiting time" in the reception room and change it to "interactive educational time" in the Cottage.

Numerous educational modules will allow self-pacing for flexibility in learning rates. The structured, logical educational format will be invisible to the participants; they will have the feeling of visiting a home with a relaxed environment. Educational modules will be built around a variety of subjects including:

- Bacterial control - preventive dentistry topics taught in the Smile Makers Room, Professor Seemore Science`s Laboratory, and other rooms of the Cottage.

- Food facts - preventive nutritional programs using games and puppet shows taught in Aunt Dottie`s Kitchen and Professor Seemore Science`s Laboratory.

- Behavioral matters - taught through all of the programs, teaching individual responsibility for their own life outcomes, and empowering each child to pursue positive change.

- Educational control - through personal interaction and special computer networking, children will be exposed to the joy of learning. Programs will be integrated with the local school systems, bringing preventive health information to the classroom.

The Toothfairy`s Cottage will teach the lesson that preventive medicine - both dental and medical - is the best form of health insurance that money can buy. Not only is it cost-efficient, it produces children who are healthier and feel more self-confident. Children with these advantages ultimately have the opportunity to more fully develop their personal potential in life.

Children at the Cottage also will be exposed to the wonderful opportunity of entering a career in the health sciences. We hope to give children numerous alternatives, encouraging the development of a personal vision for their ultimate career path.

The basic strategy at the Cottage is to use a combination of science blended with the magic of fantasy to create the positive result of learning empowered by behavioral change.

The Children`s Dental Center and The Shannon Kelly Toothfairy`s Cottage represent a community solution to a community problem. They were conceived at the same time and have taken five years to become fully operational. It has required a collaborative effort of hundreds of dedicated volunteers and is a tribute to the philanthropic side of dentistry. From the beginning, the center and the Cottage have been designed to be a prototype for America. The first true replication of The Children`s Dental Center will be opening in Philadelphia on Dec. 5, 2000. The Philadelphia Center, called Kid`s Smiles, was conceived and built under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Joseph Greenberg, a Board Member of TCDC. We hope that Kid`s Smiles is only the first of many genuine replications around the country, making The Children`s Dental Center`s biggest dream a reality.

You are invited to share in this exciting work by supporting The Children`s Dental Center with monetary gifts, products, time, talents, and contacts that can provide those gifts. Please learn more about The Children`s Dental Center and The Shannon Kelly Toothfairy`s Cottage by calling (310) 419-3000 and asking for our director of community outreach, Shirley Duff, or executive director, Warren Riley. More information is also available at, where you also can make an online donation.

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Suds feels sad because he has a dental problem.

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Suds feels great after his dental problem was solved by Dr. Hy Gene!

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Suds` sister, Bubbles. She has an attitude.

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