WHAT'S COOL IN JAPAN
At the end of 2004, the popular samurai drama actor Matsudaira Ken (nicknamed Matsuken) had a smash hit with his song "Matsuken Samba," for which he sported a topknot and a glittery kimono. Now a similar song called "Hamigaki Samba" (Teeth-Brushing Samba) has become popular among elementary school students in Fukushima Prefecture.
In April 2005, Fukushima Prefecture and the Fukushima Dental Association created "Hamigaki Samba" as part of an effort to promote healthy teeth and gums among elementary students. Local dentist Kimura Atsushi wrote and played the music and also penned the lyrics. The song was sung by a group of sixth graders from Shimizu Elementary School in Fukushima City. At the start of the school year in April, many of the prefecture's elementary schools started playing the song during the time that is set aside for students to brush their teeth after lunch.
"Even before the song was made we led the students in brushing their teeth after lunch. But by brushing their teeth while "Hamigaki Samba" is playing, the kids have developed the habit of brushing for all three-and-a-half minutes of the song," said Suzuki Tomoko, the nurse at Shimizu Elementary School. The school uses a "dry brushing" approach in which toothpaste is not used. This allows kids to brush thoroughly for a long time without toothpaste overflowing from their mouths. The song's lyrics contain information that helps the kids to keep their teeth healthy, including proper brushing and eating habits. This gives kids the knowledge they need to avoid cavities.
"Everyone in our class seems to like the samba. When we brushed our teeth without the music, we always talked with others and weren't able to brush properly. With the music, we're all smiling and brushing," said Shimizu Elementary sixth grader Yoshida Airi. Classmate Takaoka Nana, who has no cavities, commented, "Ever since 'Hamigaki Samba' began being played, younger students have started to enjoy brushing their teeth. I like sweets, but I brush in the morning, afternoon, and evening."
Brushing teeth after each meal to the rhythm of the samba might be the ultimate way to fight cavities!