May 2020 Volume LV Number 3

 
 
 
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Predoctoral Chapter Spotlight

May 2020 Volume LV Number 3

East Carolina University Making a Difference in Communities
 
As an organization within a fairly new dental school in North Carolina (est. 2011), the student chapter of the AAPD at East Caro- lina University School of Dental Medicine continues to grow and strengthen its aim to involve students in promoting children’s oral health. The school fosters relationships between dental students, pro- fessionals and communities through educational presentations, oral health screenings and public health dental service projects in Green- ville and at our eight Community Service-Learning Centers (CSLC) throughout North Carolina. These centers are strategically located across the state to provide fourth-year dental students with hands-on experience in primary care dentistry and improve the health and well- being of North Carolinians in underserved areas.
 
Our chapter at Ross Hall has been productive making a differ- ence. We provided oral hygiene instructions for three elementary schools in the Greenville area. Members collaborated with students from other ECU health science programs to host a "Teddy Bear Hos- pital," where children learned about a variety of health professions by taking their ailing teddy bears to "appointments." In June, a group of us traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to offer oral health screenings and fab- ricate mouthguards for Special Olympics athletes. In the fall, we par- ticipated in two events: "Carnival for a Cause" and "Bleeding Bash BBQ", which provided support, education, and raising awareness for sickle cell disease and inherited bleeding disorders, respectively. An- nually, we participate in Give Kids A Smile by providing a day of oral health education and free dental care for children who qualified.
 
This year, the student chapter has adopted a tooth brushing pro- gram developed by two J. Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellows, Bryan Yang and Caitlin Melvin. They designed, implemented and applied interventions to improve the oral health of elementary students. The pilot program took place at the East Carolina University Commu- nity School (ECUCS). The school is a collaboration between ECU and Pitt County Schools for grades K-5. ECUCS’s student body is deemed to have "critical needs" due to socioeconomic, academic and other challenges.
 
Having kickstarted the program by developing a good relationship with the school’s principal, Bryan and Caitlin developed a year-long oral hygiene curriculum and constructed an affordable toothbrush cart for each classroom. Using a 3-D printer at the university’s undergrad- uate library, the Fellows designed and created toothbrush racks for about $4.00 each. The racks were mounted on the carts, which also stored toothpaste, floss and personal hygiene bags for each student. Every Wednesday, the Fellows led 20-minute sessions on oral hygiene and coached the children in tooth brushing.
 
In order to continue the ECUCS oral health project beyond 2018- 19 Fellowship year, sustainability funds were awarded from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation and Practicon, a local dental supply com- pany, donated oral hygiene products. The ECU Community School expanded this year from six to eight classrooms, so SAAPD members created additional carts to accommodate the growing elementary school. Our goal is to sustain a dental component in the school curric- ulum, encourage teachers to lead toothbrushing daily and expand the program to include elementary schools near our Community Service Learning Centers.
 
ECU SAAPD has an active agenda of community involvement projects focused on improving oral health literacy and developing positive oral health habits for children. In addition, members will engage in "lunch and learn" events on topics such as maternal and infant nutrition, prenatal/baby oral health, pediatric dentistry residen- cies and collaborations between pediatricians and pediatric dentistry. Several student members are currently working to expand the Prenatal Oral Health Program developed by UNC School of Dentistry and implemented here at Ross Hall, to a CSLC with the intent to expand to all. Our student chapter values the importance of pediatric oral health and is committed to working with all aspects of health to pro- vide holistic care for our children.

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