Peninsula Dental Students with Barnardos Staff: (students pictured left to right) Christopher Moore, Kitty Ingarfield, Imran Saeed, Shana Shohal, Graeme Lowans, Vivienne Onamusi, Simran Chahal
All dental students at the University of Plymouth take part in an inter-professional engagement module, supported by local community health and wellbeing charity Well Connected, which sees us work with community organisations to deliver oral health messages and care in the local community.
It really opens our eyes to the problems and challenges some groups face when it comes to oral health, and I was proud to be part of a group working with the children's charity, Barnardo's, and visit a childcare setting to help promote good oral health.
We knew there would be two main groups to work with – parents, and children.
For the children, we thought we'd do some fun things: dressing up as a dentist to get them familiar with the setting, helping them select healthier food options in a healthy eating kitchen, delivering arts and crafts with an oral health theme, and finally doing a story time with the book Open Wide Step Inside – which contains a two-minute brushing song.
Ending the session with a reading of Open Wide Step Inside: (left to right) Shana Sohal, Simran Chahal, Kitty Ingarfield
Arts and crafts station
Arts and crafts activities with the children
Dental dress up
We also had a separate room for adults and new parents. I gave out information about brushing techniques, including when to start brushing, what happens if you have trauma, and then onto breast feeding, weaning, diet, and details about accessing NHS dental treatment when you are pregnant.
Parents were given an evaluation form, and every single one said they had learned something, and the children were delighted with the goody bags full of toothbrushes, toothpastes and brushing reward charts we gave out at the end.
For me, it was a brilliant experience too, and showed the importance of raising awareness of oral health within the local community.
To help sustain the message, we also developed a toolkit for parents to refer back to. Many of the questions people asked came from not knowing where to go for certain information, so we felt it was important to develop a resource that they could access.
I'd highly recommend other students do this type of activity, it's a great learning experience, and also a good thing to put on your CV!
Simran Chahal, Dentsoc President
Peninsula Dental School, Universty of Plymouth