As dental students in California, we are held up to certain
laws when it comes to community service. According to the new AB-880 law that
went into affect this January, we are now allowed to have fourth year students
see patients for screenings and procedures at health fairs through community
service. In previous years, we were limited to only providing verbal health
care. However, other than fourth year students, all other volunteers are
constricted to oral hygiene instructions and nutritional counseling.
From the outside looking in, I think is there even a point to participating in health fairs? The answer
is most definitely yes. It is unfortunate that we are limited to this but as
they say, always make the most of what
The power of small things such as teaching a kid how to brush
their teeth or providing our geriatric population with agents to clean their
dentures can go a long way. In order for us to make a difference, we always
have to start small. This is where everything starts.
I have compiled a list to help any dental service
organization make the most out of their health fairs.
lot of props. Having those big mouth props to show kids how to brush and
floss their teeth is really nice. After they practice on the model, give them a
mirror with a toothbrush and floss to practice on themselves! Reward them with
a sticker afterwards. Kids get really excited and enthusiastic with rewards!
“How to take care of your kid’s teeth.” “When should your child first go to the
dentist?” “How pregnancy can affect your dental hygiene.”
These pamphlets are readily available from dental corporations or your school.
They give parents a chance to take action for their kids and their mouths. They
also give parents a chance to explain topics in much more depth if volunteers
feel like they don’t know how to explain the topic to its fullest extent. Have
giant posters with pictures of gum disease progression or cavities. This helps
put a picture to a name so it becomes easier for patients to get an idea of
some of the negatives that can happen from lack of oral hygiene.
Talk to your regional rep from Crest, Colgate, Johnson and Johnson, GSK and
many more. Have a donation request letter ready to go with contact information.
Being able to give these out at service events goes a long way. A lot of these
people don’t have the means to afford some of these products, so this is just
one way to help them with their oral hygiene care.
So how do you get involved? Talk to your local religious
centers, health centers, schools, and recreational centers about any health fairs
they are planning to put on and ask if they have room to put you on as a
vendor. It is usually free of charge and students can gain community service
hours from the event.
Dentistry is moving towards preventive measures. Be sure to
know where you stand in this.