Dental pain is the leading cause of absence for children in the United States, and each year, tooth pain and other oral health issues account for about 51 million hours of missed school. In addition, an estimated 17 million children in the United States suffer from untreated dental decay, the most common chronic illness among children.
These statistics are shocking, but The Dental Clinic at Roseman University has stepped up to try and combat these numbers. Roseman University held its annual Back to School Brush-UpTM event on August 11th at The Dental Clinic, providing free dental screenings and cleanings to children grades K – 12. Those that attended the event received a voucher to return for a free comprehensive exam, free X-rays, and $50 to put toward future dental care if needed.
“It was an extremely successful event that treated 380 children most of whom had limited access to care,” said Dr. Frank Licari, Roseman University College of Dental Medicine Dean.
The Back to School Brush-UpTM event had two goals. First, to provide a positive dental experience for the children in attendance and make them life-long dental patients without the fear of going to a dentist. This was accomplished by not only the care they received, but through the dental education carnival that was held outside prior to the children receiving their free dental screenings and cleanings.
The dental education carnival consisted of various stations including:
Children used fishing rods to “fish” different foods (laminated pictures of food) out of a pool and placed them in either the “healthy” category or “unhealthy” category to teach good oral hygiene.
Enamel Strengths and Stains Station
Hard boiled eggs were soaked in different solutions of varying acidity (milk, juice, soda, and vinegar) and children were able to visualize the effects of those solutions on the health and strength of the “enamel” of the egg (the hard-outer shell of the egg). Children also had the opportunity to try and brush the stains that were left from these acidic solutions off the “enamel” of the egg with toothbrushes. While at this station children were taught the techniques of brushing which consists of small, gentle circular motions with their toothbrush at 45-degree angle at the level where the gums meet the tooth.
Flossing for Charms Station
Children had the opportunity to “floss” lucky charms cereal out from between fake teeth in a giant mouth. This helped children learn the technique of flossing. Proper technique is making a “C” shape with the floss around the tooth in the contact.
Rethink Your Drink Station
The exact sugar content found in common drinks was measured out into color coded baggies and displayed. The children and parents were then asked to match the amount of sugar in the baggie to the drink. Children and parents learned that chocolate milk has the same amount of sugar as a Monster Energy drink.
In addition to the dental education stations, there were also “just for fun” activities including a toothbrush painting station where fun illustrations were drawn on butcher paper and children were asked to paint the picture or create their own picture using toothbrushes. A photo booth was also available. “Monster Mouth” images were attached to sticks and used for props along with a giant toothbrush and mirror. A photo frame was utilized that stated Roseman Back to School Brush-UpTM 2017. Parents were able to take photos of their children behind the frame while holding their props.
The second goal of the Back to School Brush-UpTM event was to raise awareness to the media and to the community of the unmet oral health needs of children in the local population. Untreated dental decay can lead to pain, cavities, and even tooth loss, which can make it difficult for children to speak and swallow properly, and makes it hard to focus and learn in school.
“I’m very pleased to say that through the efforts of the Roseman University dental students, faculty and staff, we were very successful on both of these goals and look forward to next year’s event,” said Licari. “203 of the children screened at the event have appointments to return to The Dental Clinic at Roseman University for care.”
The Dental Clinic at Roseman University will continue to provide quality, low cost dental care to the community that it serves, providing dental care access to the under and uninsured.
Rachael Wadley, MBA
Roseman University of Health Sciences