The Dentist Magazine.

Dental therapy and hygiene students support children and parents

Published: 27/02/2017

A group of dental therapy and hygiene students from Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry (PUPSD) have been working with parents and youngsters from Action for Children to help prevent tooth decay.

Poor oral health in children continues to hit the headlines. New figures from the Local Government Association state that 160 children and teenagers have teeth extracted in hospital under general anaesthetic every day. These operations are wholly avoidable with good oral hygiene practices and diet and regular check-ups with a dentist.

The PUPSD students have carried out a project with Action for Children at its Green Ark Children Centre, to provide children and their parents with the knowledge and information to prevent tooth decay – and so avoid those trips to hospital.

The students provided interactive demonstrations on oral hygiene techniques and diet advice, and carried out free fluoride varnish application – a treatment which has been proved to prevent tooth decay.

There was also the opportunity for parents to sign up their children for treatment and check-ups at one of PUPSD’s dental education facilities, where dental profession students treat NHS patients as part of their studies under the supervision of qualified dental clinical professionals.

The project is part of the Inter Professional Engagement (IPE) programme which sees dental students undertake a number of projects in the community designed to raise oral health awareness and improve access to dental care. The programme is delivered by the Community Engagement Team at the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise.

Pat Smith, from Action for Children, commented, “No parent wants their child to be operated on – especially to treat something like tooth decay which is avoidable – but often the advice is confusing and the support hard to come by. The dental therapy and hygiene students were brilliant, with both parents and children coming away with a new enthusiasm for looking after their teeth.”

Karen Burn, a dental care professional in the Community Engagement Team at the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise, added, “It was great to see our dental therapy and hygiene students making such a positive contribution to the oral health of young children. We are grateful to Action for Children for hosting this project – without the support of our host organisations it would be impossible to run the IPE programme.”