Pre-dental society visits schools, teaches
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 02:03
Students in two classes at Adams Elementary in south Corvallis left school yesterday with bags full of toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss, as well as helpful tips for dental hygiene, courtesy of the students of the Oregon State University pre-dental society.
“We’ve had three outreaches this week, so it’s been crazy,” said Awbrey Anderson, the activities coordinator for the pre-dental society. Three outreaches equates to nearly 90 students, she said.
Chere Pereira, the chief pre-dental adviser said she suspects the society will have visited 20 schools in the area by the end of the academic year.
“The teachers are very, very appreciative, and we get really nice thank you notes,” Pereira said. “And we get just the cutest ‘thank you’ notes from the children.”
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.
The pre-dental society students ask the gradeschoolers questions about how many times they should brush and floss, as well as proper brushing technique, demonstrated in the handout, “Brush with your family.” They also conduct a “Good or Bad?” worksheet with pictures of carrots, soda, apples and other foods.
A giant model of a mouth, complete with toothbrush, helps students understand how to brush.
“We basically go through it and teach them how to brush,” said Seena Maleki, a junior in general science with a pre-dental option, and a member of the pre-dental society. “Brush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line so you can just dig in there between the gum and the tooth and get all the bacteria out.”
One member of the society dons a giant tooth costume.
“At the beginning, the students come up and introduce themselves, and then we have a surprise guest,” Maleki said. “That’s Mr. Tooth, who comes running in and gives the kids high-fives, and basically changes the atmosphere.”
Maleki has been Mr. Tooth the past three outreaches.
“I remember one little girl was like, ‘You’re really cool,’” Maleki said.
As part of their plan to expand their outreach to older schoolchildren, the pre-dental society is revamping the curriculum. Brittany Oreste, a senior in general science and member of the pre-dental society, is developing a cartoon to showcase how some products, such as energy drinks, contain sugar.
“This comic strip will be about the evil Mr. Plaque and his sugar minions,” Anderson said.
In the cartoon, Mr. Plaque rallies an army of sugar cubes that pour into a child’s mouth via an energy drink and attack his teeth. The child goes to his dentist, Dr. Prevention, who tells him to brush twice a day and floss before bed.
They’re also working on new questions, activities and a video modeled after “Crank dat Dental Floss,” a rap on YouTube about dental hygiene.
For children in the fourth and fifth grades, the society hopes to bring up fluoride and braces. They’ll also focus on the differences between sugars from foods, like gummy bears versus fruit sugars.
Before the society can implement its new program, it must complete the cartoon and produce its video. Then, it would need to be dentist approved and reviewed by Pereira. Anderson estimates its new curriculum will probably be ready by next year.
In 2011, Pereira formalized the curriculum so the information is accurate and consistent from one outreach to the next. In the same year, the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation gave the pre-dental society a grant.
The grant is for Women Investing in Samaritan Health, and using these funds the society was able to purchase dental supplies. Prior to the grant, the society relied on donations.
The society’s outreach focuses on dental hygiene’s affect on overall health.
“Obviously, if your teeth are rotten, you can’t eat properly,” Pereira said.
McKinley Smith, news reporter