It’s Work Day 1 of the trip, and after a two hour bus ride to a church in a rural town called Clermont, we arrive at our work site. We get off of the bus and chaos ensues as children and adults alike greet us, anxious to get inside for care. We scatter, converting folding tables into surgical stations and hygiene bays. The second year dental students man the hygiene station, excited to see our first patients that aren’t our classmates. The morning flies by. After a blur of cleanings one after another – scaling-prophy-fluoride, scaling-prophy-fluoride – I am called over to do my first local anesthesia injection since our certification workshop in class two weeks earlier.
Last week, the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists) visited the Buds and Blossom Day Care to promote the importance of healthy teeth, oral hygiene, nutrition, and dental visits to a group of children aged 3-5. AAPD Vice President, Anna Bak (D17), had this to say about the event:
“This outreach event at Buds and Blossoms Daycare occurred right in the heart of Chinatown, steps away from TUSDM. It was a great way to engage ourselves in the community and provided insight to how a daycare in Chinatown is run. It was interesting to observe that although the class was ethnically diverse, all of the children learned in both English and Chinese. Going forward, it may be a good idea to learn simple Chinese phrases as a way to connect with the children on a different level and to be cognizant of our place as healthcare providers in Chinatown. Additionally, the daycare also had a no-shoes policy and provided us with shoe covers before entering. This emphasized the importance of cultural literacy, and while we might enter a daycare as leaders to provide dental education and health promotion, we must provide it in the proper cultural context. Dr. Forero was a great mentor and exemplary role model for a pediatric dentist who is passionate about health care promotion. Overall, I had a great time at this event! The children were very receptive and bright, and the daycare was very welcoming.”
Over the past several months, Risha De Leon (D16) has been spending time with the children at ABCD Chinese Church Head Start and Brighton-Allston Head Start. While there, she has helped the kids make better meal choices, taught them the proper brushing techniques, and provided plenty of toothpaste and tooth brushes. Risha had this to say about her experience:
“I learned about community service that it entails a lot of immersion and relationship building rather than planning. Needs assessment is key for a successful program. You also have to learn to listen to the administration to be able to develop your program well. I learned about program development and implementation and the importance of community partnership.”
“Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica for the second time on a dental outreach program. My first trip was five years ago, while a pre-dental student in college. Returning to Jamaica, this year, I was once again charmed by the Jamaican people, and their “no problem” attitude. The outreach was incredible. It was a real life experience that brought together aspects of basic sciences, clinical expertise and global outreach. It was not uncommon to have an adult patient who was diabetic or had high blood pressure; thus, we utilized our medical team and our understanding of medical issues to clear these patients for treatment. Our background in global outreach and knowledge from the GSL course helped us understand the culture, while our skills in providing anesthesia and hygiene were put to the test.
The D18 class has put together “tooth talks” at the Castle Square Tenants Organization with the goal of introducing oral health topics (hygiene, dental insurance, nutrition) to the members of the community. D18 class members engaged the community with dental jeopardy, flossing demonstrations, and a Q & A session. D18 Co-Community Service Chair Lauren Gerkowicz reflected on the event:
“The D18 Community Service Chairs have been working hard to create opportunities for the class to get intimately involved in the local community, namely through programs with the Castle Square Tenants Organization in the South End. A series of “Tooth Talks” was set up and the first seminar covered general oral health and hygiene, a flossing demo, dental jeopardy, and passing out of toothbrushes and toothpaste. A group of D18’s hosted the seminar at Castle Square, and the turnout was incredible! Over 45 residents attended and were fully engaged in the presentation. The next talk will cover dental insurance and we’re hoping for even more class and CSTO resident involvement. Through these interactive seminars, Tufts dental students get to connect with individuals in our neighborhood in a very meaningful way.”
Last week the D19 class volunteered with Urban Edge, an organization based around helping families in need. Their main aim is in construction of affordable housing, but they also want to strengthen communities and families through their housing. They put on a few events each year and one of the events is the Thanksgiving Turkey Drive. Volunteers from the D19 class were welcomed to attend to help out on this busy day for the community. Abby Manzella (D19) had this to say:
“We had an overflow of students wanting to donate their time but we had to narrow it down to ourselves and three others based on their interest and timely responses. We set up a table at the event with a jeopardy board and different oral care pamphlets. The five of us switched off between working at the table and checking people in. We were blown away by the interest and incredible reactions we were getting from the attendees. The children LOVED the monkey and had to get in line to brush his teeth because they were all so antsy! The older kids and adults loved the jeopardy game and many did multiple questions. Everyone had a blast and we hope that next year we can go back and bring a bigger group of our classmates!! One of the best parts of the evening was when an older woman was complaining about her teeth and Gilbert was able to help translate a pamphlet for her and instruct her to call Tufts to be seen by a pre-doctoral student. She then said that us being there was ‘a blessing in disguise’. It was a wonderful evening for all of us.”