Pediatric Dental Students Show and Tell Oral Health to 'Smile Kids'
Flashing a big smile of his own at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry's
latest "Give the Kids a Smile" day, Vineet
Dhar, BDS, MDS, PhD, associate professor, said the dentistry can
sometimes seem to be a small part of educating pediatric dental
The Smile day at the School's National Dental Museum in Baltimore was
for 70 first-grade schoolchildren from nearby James McHenry Elementary
School. They were greeted and hosted by 20 of the School of Dentistry's
pediatric dentistry students, eager to practice that other part of
their curriculum, childhood psychology.
Half of the dental students sat or knelt with groups of first-graders in front of colorful, simple exhibits about brushing, tooth
anatomy, saliva, and dozens of other oral health subjects.
The other half of the pediatric students, wearing masks and rubber
gloves, sat across from the children, one at a time, for an oral
examination and lots of healthy "tooth talk."
"The first thing they [the pediatric classes] teach us is that you have
to get down to their level, look the kids in the eye," said Natalie Masiuk, third-year
pediatric dental student. Masiuk in her powder blue scrubs was
surrounded by seven children at a floor-level tobacco exhibit. "Do you
know what tobacco is? Lots of people don't know that tobacco is bad for
your teeth," Masiuk said as she pointed to a large poster of stained
teeth. "This is what your teeth will look like if you smoke," she said,
evoking a round of "eews" and "yuks."
The American Dental Association (ADA) began the Give Kids a Smile
program in 2003 as a way for ADA members to join with others in the
community to provide dental services to underserved children. Each
year, approximately 450,000 children benefit from more than 1,500
events. Each year, the UM School of Dentistry invites nearby elementary
school children with their teachers and some parents to a Smile day.
Dhar watched as his students examined the children. "This introduces
the students to community service and introduces the kids to good
hygienic practices." He said it was all about providing impressions and
retaining, but not of the dental kind. "Helping the kids develop
appropriate behavior and attitude about the dentist makes an impression
in their minds at this age that they can retain with reinforcing by the
teachers here and parents," said Dhar.
Meanwhile, another group of five children were gathered around
third-year pediatric dentistry student Jennifer Drosser, kneeling at the
brush and floss exhibit. Primed by her training to expect to hear
anything from children, Drosser began, "Does anyone here floss?" "Yea,
it made my tooth go out," a child said, in all seriousness. "Well, it
must have been a baby tooth," Drosser responded, quickly turning to the
Tootharama exhibit on tooth anatomy. She talked the children through
the exhibit on the development of human teeth from birth to 35 years
The children drifted off to the next exhibit, prompting Drosser to say,
"We are taught how to talk with them. Sugar bugs are the bacteria that
decay teeth. Our mask is an umbrella. We start with terms they
understand. And, we have to keep in mind a lot of the issue is that
kids are afraid of pain."
During the Give the Kids a Smile visit, the children learned dozens of
oral health tidbits that they might retain, such as how many times a
day to brush, how much saliva a person makes day (600 milliliters),
that braces can be cool, what a mouth full of cavities looks like, or
what bad breath or good breath smell like (simulated in a flip top box
Part of the pediatric students' education is preparatory training with
children by practice rotations in Maryland pediatric dental offices
and community clinics. But the Give the Kids a Smile day is a favorite
with the students, says Jessica Lee (pictured),
who is due to receive her pediatric DDS degree next month, which has
earned her a residency in the prestigious Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia. "I've learned a lot about working with a community and
kids by being part of this Give the Kids a Smile day all my four years
in dental school," she said. "The importance of interacting with the
community has been emphasized and the reason we do it."
In addition to educating new pediatric dentists, the School's
Department of Pediatric Dentistry oversees a Pediatric Dental
Fellowship program that provides direct clinical oral health care
services to underserved Maryland children. The program is a partnership
with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Office of
Oral Health, local health departments, and federally qualified health
centers throughout Maryland. The objective of the program is to place
graduates of U.S. pediatric dental residency programs into public
safety-net clinics to provide clinical oral health care services to
needy children, especially those eligible for Medicaid.
|Posting Date: 04/11/2013
|Contact Name: Steve Berberich
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