Holly Foley, a student at the Portsmouth Dental Academy, on earning her wings…
This week has been quite different in the dental academy as I have had a fantastic opportunity to visit a local primary school to deliver oral hygiene advice to a class of year 3s.
This was quite a daunting experience as the thought of facing 30 inquisitive 8 year olds with props and activities was extremely nerve racking. Luckily I was not alone and the activities and presentation to the class was carried out as a group of three.
This was an assessed activity as part of my Scientific Basis of Oral Health Promotion module so a little added stress, although the examiner was supportive and became involved with activities and helped with minor behaviour management.
The children were very excited on our arrival and had lots of questions to ask us.
As a group we had decided to introduce ourselves as dental therapy students and wore fairy wings to associate with the tooth fairy.
All of the children loved this aspect of our presentation although it did instigate questions we weren’t expecting such as ‘can you fly?’ ‘Where does the tooth fairy keep all of her money?’ and ‘Will I be rich if all my teeth fall out?’
At this point, it was important to establish that we were there to make sure they were looking after their teeth and could not reveal the tooth fairy’s secrets.
I was surprised that some children fully capable to brush their own teeth but lacked the motivation to do it properly, so the resources that were taken to the school were great for motivation and interaction.
We had taken mouth hand puppets, toothbrushes, fruit and vegetables for dietary advice, stickers, toothpaste and a feely bag to guess the things you find at the dentists.
Following our learning objectives of:
How to clean your teeth properly
What happens if you don’t look after your teeth properly
Which foods are good and bad for your teeth
What it’s like at the dentist and what you might find there
As we study communication at the academy it was important that what I have been learning in the module I put into practice by using effective communication for patient understanding by using open questioning and understanding the barriers of communication with children involving the lack of knowledge, understanding and anxiety. I decided to use the ‘tell-show-do’ method for activities to obtain if children had understood additionally they had a hands on practical of tooth brushing the models.
A lovely day that ended with a goody bag for all the children to take home with smile pictures, stickers, charts and toothpaste which they all loved.
It was a very valuable experience for when I have paediatric patients; I have had a small insight into managing children and the difficulties in anticipating a child’s reaction to the dental environment.