Patient Care

Dental Residents Teach Students About Smiles

Jul. 9, 2018

Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) was founded on the principle that giving back is not an obligation, but a privilege. For more than 100 years, this has been an integral part of what makes Eastman special and is practiced by our dental professionals every day.

Group of EIOH residentsEach year, 140 dentists from around the world receive advanced, specialty training at Eastman. These residents not only train to become specialists in various dental fields, but to become engaged and active in supporting our local community. A great example of this is the recent educational event held at the Children’s School and Seton Catholic to teach children the importance of oral health.

“Dental health is critical when you are young,” said Assistant Professor Dr. Linda Rasubala, DDS, Ph.D., who coordinates the event each year.   A common misconception is that maintaining good dental hygiene is not as important as a child because they will lose their baby teeth, However, the exact opposite is true. Prioritizing oral health at an early age is directly related to maintaining a healthy and clean mouth as an adult, she said.

Teaching kidsTo promote our mission for oral health education and advancement in the community, we visit local schools to deliver presentations and hands-on educational activities,” Dr. Rasubala explained. “’We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,’” she continued, sharing her favorite quote, a Winston Churchill classic, to describe the sentiment behind the EIOH mission.

Overall, about 250 excited children were the beneficiaries of this goodwill. “This is something that the kids and faculty look forward to every year,” Angela Colt, director of The Children’s School said. “They especially love kids with goodie bagsgetting the goodie bags, and when they bring them home, it can help to start the oral health conversation with their parents, which is important.”

Crest & Oral B sponsors the event each year and donates these goodie bags which are full of oral health essentials like a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and animation dental stickers. These goodies give them a way to start the good dental habits they learned during the event.

Crest & Oral B has a longstanding relationship with EIOH. “We’re delighted to provide samples  , patient education, and outreach opportunities,” said Beth Jordan, RDH, scientific relations manager for Crest & Oral B. “For us, it is imperative that we empower dental professionals to instill a health and prevention mindset with their patients and for them to have the confidence and skills to treat patients outside the traditional walls of a dental setting.”

And this event was anything but the traditional dental setting for the Eastman Dental residents.

Resident on floor with studentResidents sat on the floor to perform eye-level demonstrations with the children, using life-size sets of teeth, making sure they were able to see first-hand the proper way to clean and maintain their young smiles.  Moving from classroom to classroom, residents tailored their lessons to the ages of the students. “All of the children were extremely curious,” said Dr. Howard Yoon who assisted with teaching throughout the day. “I even had one class send me a personal letter thanking me for teaching them about oral health. It was touching.”

Kids brushing tooth modelDr. Yoon was not the only resident who saw the positive impact of this event. Dr. Hossam Abdelsalam knows how important it is to teach these lessons to kids while they are young. “Learning at this early stage is extremely important because it helps the children build good habits that they’ll hopefully stick with for life,” he said. “I can’t wait to be a part of the next event!”

These outreach events are a success for not just the young students, but the residents as well. It’s a great opportunity to become familiar with the people and the community they will be serving. “I think every resident should participate,” said Dr. Sabatini. “It was a delightful opportunity to share with a group of such wonderful people.”

Residents teaching kidsMs. Patricia Selig, principal at Seton Catholic School, had nothing but positive things to say about the experience. “The enthusiasm that the residents had teaching the students about dental health was contagious! The students all came away from the experience with valuable knowledge and big smiles. The information they learned can never be shared too often, and it’s great that it was reinforced in an engaging way that the kids enjoy.”

“Education and access are key to changing the landscape of dental decay among children and adults,” said Eli Eliav, DMD, Ph.D., EIOH director, at a reception following the event. Year after year, EIOH dedicates time and resources to brightening smiles of those here at the University of Rochester and those out in the local community. Dr. Eliav thanked the residents for their services and dedication to spreading educational messages of healing.

These continued efforts are what makes EIOH such a special place for so many different people.