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The Power of Service!

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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 you have.

 

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.

 

Have a 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!

 

Pamphlets! “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.

 

Donations! 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.