‘Oral Health, Total Health’ A Total Success

April 2016

by Nicole (Nikki) Van Der Wal – Class of 2017:

Oral Health Total Health (OHTH) is a national not-for-profit organization with chapters all across the country, giving dental students, dentists, and dental hygienists the opportunity to advocate, educate, and improve the oral health care of persons with special needs.

McGill Dentistry joined OHTH and hosted their first Sharing Smiles day in 2012 in association with the Miriam Home and Services. With the goal of familiarizing both the participants and the students with the importance of overcoming the challenges that persons with special needs face in optimizing their oral health, the Sharing Smiles day event pairs an oral health session with a fun carnival that allows the participants and students to interact, and create a comfortable positive environment.

When I volunteered to be a group leader at Sharing Smiles day in my first year of McGill dentistry 2013-2014, not only was I excited for our first exposure to dentistry during FMD, but also the opportunity to continue being involved with persons with special needs. As a community who struggles greatly with access to adequate oral health care, I believe it is extremely important to have as much exposure to this population as possible during our training as dental students. As each year passes, we, as dental students, get to slowly overcome any uncertainties or fears that currently stigmatize the treatment of patients with special needs. In addition, the participants that attend get to express the barriers that they face in accessing or understanding oral health care, and create a positive association to the practice of visiting the dentist and taking care of their oral health at home.

It has been a great joy to be involved in this event each year, we continue to see an increase in the number of volunteers and participants and hope that this trend continues. It is not often that we get to take a moment away from the hectic mind set of studying, organizing patients, and learning as much as we can in our time here, to be able to re connect with real reason that brought us here in the first place. For myself, opportunities such as OHTH, and mobile outreach clinic etc, are the ones that re-energize my drive to apply what we learn and make a difference in the world outside of McGill clinic.

Sharing Smiles

Sharing Smiles

Oral Health Education Session

Oral Health Education Session

Oral Health Education Session

Oral Health Education Session

Oral Health Education Session

Oral Health Education Session

OHTH Volunteers

OHTH Volunteers

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

OHTH Carnival

OHTH Carnival

OHTH Carnival

OHTH Carnival

 

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