Nathaniel Batte leans back in his chair and inspects his purplish mouth through his newly acquired sunglasses. Holding the hand mirror a few inches from his face, the 8-year-old likes what he sees so far.
His hygienist, however, isn't as happy with the prognosis.
“That purple means bacteria,” Marsha Center tells him. “That's our enemy, right?”
They'll have a talk later about proper brushing techniques and avoiding the worst things for Nathaniel's teeth: Coke and Cheetos. At this office that conversation will last as long as it takes — patients sometimes will be in the dentist's chair for an hour or two, hoping that if they're good they'll get a shot at the overflowing chest of toys nearby.
The children and parents who visit the Kids' Community Dental Clinic on Elmwood Avenue in Burbank receive an education by the time they leave. Volunteer hygienists and dentists at the clinic teach prevention and proper oral care to some 800 kids a year plus another 5,000 in schools, and for a small fee ensure these children's teeth last their lifetimes.