A local college professor found a creative way to target a growing problem around the country and right here in the CSRA. Adults and children, especially those in underserved areas, neglect going to the dentist. While going to get your teeth checked out may be a regular occurrence for some people, in certain communities it’s not. Yet the same damaging effects can happen to the mouth.
Courtney Carter is walking out of Georgia Regents University (GRU) College of Allied Health Sciences to her graduation, but she almost didn’t get there. She told WJBF News Channel 6 that finding teeth to clean, mainly those who have not seen a dentist in a few years, was hard to find.
“I had to stay an extra week to find more difficult patients and complete them before I could get all of my graduation requirements in,” said Carter, a Dental Hygiene Senior at GRU.
Many other hygiene students were like Carter, highlighting an excess of cavities in children and plaque build-up and gum disease in adults living in underserved areas.
She recalled, “I remember talking to one child and I was like ‘oh you need to floss at night.’ She said, ‘well we don’t have money for floss and I don’t have a tooth brush.'”
Ana Thompson is a Registered Dental Hygienist and Chair of the Department of Dental Hygiene at Georgia Regents University. She is hoping her coloring and activity book, Keeping Up With Your Smile, will reverse poor oral health decisions in children and adults by showing how a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss can go to war with germ monsters in your mouth.
“The tooth brush in this case could be the hero who comes to save the mouth,” she described. “Some brushing techniques, flossing techniques, we talk about the germs that produce cavities and nutrition. There’s actually some games that they can do.”
An American Dental Education Association grant provided minority faculty development and outreach activities, sending dental hygiene students in trailers to offer free oral health to those in need. Thompson hopes the coloring book will be an extension of those services, introducing kids and ultimately their parents to the sights and sounds of the dentist office while stressing the importance of oral hygiene.
“We don’t look inside our kids mouths all the time. We’re not checking that there is a problem. Parents need to know that the teeth that the child is going to lose, if they have cavities, they cause pain,” she said.
The coloring book can be purchased at the GRU Bookstore on the Health Sciences Campus. Call 706-721-3581 for more information.