- Charles Sturt dental students raise awareness of dental health strategies with children via dance, drama and dress-ups
‘Dancing against decay’, that’s the latest approach students at the Charles Sturt School of Dentistry and Medical Sciences are taking to help educate pre-school and primary school children on the importance of caring for their ‘teeth for life’.
The students have been rolling out a pilot program to schools in Orange recently to help counteract the alarming child tooth decay rates. The interactive presentation focusses on fun, encouraging the students to engage on a pathway of prevention.
Tooth decay rates for children are concerning. Forty per cent of primary school children have tooth decay by the age of five years and this prevalence of tooth decay continues to increase with age.
Children’s tooth decay rates, coupled with recent research which has found that 66 per cent of adults are unaware that poor oral health can impact medical conditions, demonstrates the importance of continually educating the public about their teeth and mouth.
Charles Sturt University Lecturer in Clinical Dentistry, Dr Yvette Rainbow said the approach by students was a dynamic way to connect with children, focussing on prevention and helping them form better habits.
“The students are very passionate about making a difference in the community and educating children on how to look after their teeth, and forming healthy eating habits.
“We have received great feedback from the school students and their teachers, and we hope to run this program on a bigger scale in the future,” Dr Rainbow said.
Charles Sturt second-year dental student Ms Vanessa Thai said some of the most prevalent preventable chronic health diseases found worldwide include oral health diseases.
“Diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease), and edentulism (total loss of teeth) for the most part are very preventable diseases, yet the statistics around children’s oral health suggests that these conditions will continue to be common,” Ms Thai said.
The Charles Sturt dentistry school presentations included:
- Large models to show children how to brush their teeth
- Interactive exercises to educate children on the quantity of sugar in drinks
- Discussion on which food is healthy for your teeth
- Dance and games
- Students dress up in a dentist gown, glasses, gloves, and mask
Dr Rainbow said that diet, creating good dental habits, and ensuring children brushed their teeth twice a day for two minutes with a pea-size amount of toothpaste, are the three most important things parents can teach their children about oral health.
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