Taking oral health to the needy
Marking National Oral Health Month in September, UWC’s Department of Oral Hygiene hosted a programme for the promotion of oral health, while also delivering some appreciated dental services, at the Fellowship Bible Church Christian School situated in the Philippi farming community.
The occasion formed part of the Faculty of Dentistry’s continued community outreach projects and the service learning programme for final-year oral hygiene students, and was coordinated by oral hygiene departmental staff, including Natalie Gordon, Anri Bernardo, Cole Gilbert and Lesley Vorster. While the department has been running initiatives at the School for some years, the programme was different this year.
“As part of the Oral Health Month initiative, we decided to integrate the community health promotion aspect with the dental treatment aspect of oral health, showing that comprehensive preventive dental care can be done in the school environment,” explains Gordon. “This means less traveling for the learners, more dental treatment being done that was not invasive and learners being less anxious, unlike when they are taken to a dental facility for treatment.”
As part of the programme, the UWC students taught approximately 130 learners about good oral health practices and supervised tooth-brushing exercises, while also conducting preventive dental treatment. Treatment included applying fissure sealants (sealing the fissures of healthy molars to prevent cavities forming in these teeth), providing fluoride treatments and doing minimally invasive restorations.
According to the UWC students, the event provided a positive learning experience as it highlighted the impact of poor oral health on the lives of children – such as pain hampering their learning – and the need for dental care in schools. The visit also showed that good dental care can be provided with limited resources.