UR Students Host First Annual Dental Awareness Week
Public health advocates and aspiring dentists Brandon McDonald (UR ’13) and Yasmin Mattar (UR ’14), lobbied university administration last year to begin an annual Dental Awareness Week on campus. They gathered supporting students’ signatures, produced a video, met with the Dean of Students, and even made a giant gold tooth sculpture to bring attention to oral health disparities in the nation, as well as raise awareness to students’ own oral health.
Their efforts paid off, and this year they enjoyed a successful first week-long event, including lectures from Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) resident Dr. Yanez, who talked about decay prevention and the link between oral health and systemic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and oral cancer.
A meet and greet with local dentists and EIOH dental residents helped people better understand the various aspects of a career in dentistry; they hosted a Health Fair where students participated in interactive games and trivia contests and received toothbrushes and educational materials; they provided outreach and education to a local day care, and arranged for singing tooth fairies, otherwise known as one of the UR student acapella groups, the Ramblers, to deliver goodie bags to students.
“From finding sponsors and lecturers to advertising and set-up, this experience came with several challenges, but in the end, Yasmin and I felt a sense of accomplishment in the way the events turned out and the impact on the campus community,” said McDonald, who next year would like to include lectures on unfamiliar aspects of dentistry, such as forensics. “Although we have not discussed this with our sponsor, the Charles Drew Pre-Health Society, we would hope that this week will be an annual event with small improvements each year.”
McDonald is executing a pilot study on the effects of e-cigarettes on periodontal health under. Sangeeta Gajendra, DDS, MPH, clinical chief for EIOH’s Community Dentistry and Oral Disease Prevention, while applying to dental school.
Karen Black |