Breaking the Ice About Oral Health
The Division of Community Health Programs (CHP), with the help of Oral Health Promotion Director Kathy Lituri, teamed up with the student chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) and other GSDM student volunteers on Wednesday, September 26, 2012, at the annual Rosie’s Place Wellness Fair.
The Wellness Fair is the biggest of all events GSDM attends at Rosie’s Place and an opportunity for hundreds of women who attend to speak with representatives from many healthcare resources. They learn about topics such as osteoporosis, birth control, women’s issues, and, of course, oral health.
“We have interactive activities to engage the women,” said Kathy Lituri. “The intent is to break the ice and get the women talking about their oral health.”
GSDM volunteers accomplished that goal with two educational activities that have proven popular at past outreach events. One is a nutrition activity called “Go, Slow, or Whoa” that teaches players what foods to eat often, sometimes, or rarely based on their impact on teeth. The second, “Celebrity Smiles” is a hit created by alum Mahesh Sadhnani DMD 12.
“I think it is a seamless fit to have AAWD members being involved in Rosie’s Place events,” said AAWD member Andrea Lam DMD 16. “It was a good experience volunteering with male classmates and I think Aaron, David, and Ali all did an excellent job interacting with the women of Rosie’s Place and being sensitive to the issues they face.”
Andrea was surprised by how little some attendees knew about the sugar content of beverages they and their children commonly drink, proving the importance of the educational aspect of the event.
“Many spoke about drinking lots of sugary beverages throughout the day and were shocked to see the sugar levels in common drinks,” she said. “Often the drink labels are in grams, but it hits home when we convert those grams to teaspoons.”
Rosie’s Place is a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. GSDM has a longstanding relationship with Rosie’s and a system for providing oral health information and complementary hygiene supplies to women at Rosie’s Place.
Participants included: Muhammad Ali Shazib AS 14, David Cheng DMD 16, Andrea Lam DMD 16, Aaron Mertz DMD 16, and Champaka Nagaraju AS 14.