Dental and Oral Health students reach out to a remote community

Bourke Oral Health Promotion Project Caroline Bowman, Stephanie Chow, Dr Steven Naoum   The Bourke Oral Health Promotion Project was a project designed to discuss oral health with high school students at Bourke High School and hospital staff from Bourke District Hospital.  Two presentations were given to the participants, one focused on oral care and the other, on facial swellings of dental origin and dental trauma.  The project was conducted over two days in Bourke.  Approximately 80 high school students and 30 health staff participated.  Two dental students (Caroline Bowman and Stephanie Chow) from the University of Sydney facilitated the presentations.  Dr Steven Naoum, a dentist and lecturer at the University of Sydney, provided supervision. The oral care presentation was delivered to the students of Bourke High School.  It was developed by Alya Almenahi, Jocelyn Ho, Penelope Kia Arasch, Christine Elizabeth Schofield, final year Bachelor of Oral Health students from the University of Sydney.  The presentation discussed many aspects of oral care including diet, tooth brushing, poor habits and consequences of tooth decay.  The presentation also included three interactive activities to encourage student participation.  Students were required to ‘spot the difference’ between a healthy smile and one with gingivitis, ‘scratch and sniff’ the tooth nearest to the gumline where plaque commonly accumulates, and chew a disclosing tablet to show assess the effectiveness of their own tooth brushing.  Demonstration of correct tooth brushing was also given.  At the conclusion, questions were invited.  All participating students were given a toothbrush.  Enthusiastic students were also given additional prizes for participation. Oral care was also discussed with the hotel staff of the hospital.  The focus of the presentation was how to recognise a toothache and the possible complications.  Most importantly, the signs and symptoms that suggest that dental care is required promptly were reinforced.  These staff easily related to discussion of the types of toothache and appreciated the information session. The final presentation was to the nursing staff of Bourke Hospital.  Dentists visit Bourke from the Rural Flying Doctor Service and the Poche Centre.  There is no residing dentist.  So, the presentation outlined the immediate management of dental injuries and facial swellings in the absence of the dentist.  The presentation has now been published on the Poche Centre website.  It was created in conjunction with Dr Naoum and designed for the non-dental clinician. During the remaining time, Caroline and Stephanie were present at the Aboriginal Medical Service.  They provided oral hygiene advice and encouraged good health practices to patients waiting to be seen by the visiting dentist.  In some cases this time also allowed for personal reinforcement of the information provided to the larger groups at the school. Feedback received was generally positive. Students appreciated the information session and oral hygiene demonstration.  They were most moved by the consequences of poor oral care and many reported that the most important fact remembered was, to brush their teeth.  The hospital staff appreciated advice regarding how to manage dental emergencies such as trauma and toothaches.  These staff also reinforced the challenge to access a dentist when an emergency does occur. 1 2 4 3