UC Blue Ash students make oral health fun for kids

Students in the dental hygiene program recently had children at Riverview East Academy laughing, smiling and playing with puppets while learning about the proper way to brush their teeth and floss

Taking care of your teeth is important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

Thirty-nine students in the dental hygiene program at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College recently visited more than 100 schoolchildren from Riverview East Academy, part of Cincinnati Public Schools, to help them learn good oral health habits at an early age.

The presentation included games, puppets and skits to illustrate how to properly brush and floss. Thanks to a generous donation by Crest + Oral-B, each of the children at Riverview East also received toothbrushes and toothpaste.

It is the second year that UC Blue Ash students visited Riverview East as part of their preventive dentistry course. “Many of the children have not been to the dentist or have fears, so this puts them more at ease,” says Luke Burroughs, dental hygiene professor at UC Blue Ash. “The puppets (customized with a set of teeth) were used in the skits for comic relief, but also for the kids to identify with a character and to observe brushing and flossing on the puppet’s teeth.”

The dental hygiene students met with children in grades K–6, as well as two classes for students with autism. It was a great opportunity for the kids to learn why it’s important to care for their teeth, while the college students gained valuable experience in educating a young audience. The program seemed to make a big impact on everyone involved.

“I would do it over a million times to see the joy we brought to these kids,” says Jen Rouan, a first-year dental hygiene student at UC Blue Ash. “I hope our teaching will stick with them forever. I cannot wait for our next teaching opportunity because this was just as rewarding to me as it is for these children.”

The visit made a similar impression on Ashley Bell, who is also a student in the dental hygiene program. “I always knew I would love working as a dental hygienist, but this teaching experience made me love the profession even more.”

The feeling was mutual from students and teachers at Riverview East. “The one-on-one interactions with students and hands-on demonstrations made the information relatable at the students’ level of understanding,” says Deborah Britt, a teacher in the high school autism program. “Great visuals and manipulatives, excellent for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).”

The visit by the UC Blue Ash students actually had to take place at the Jacobs Center due to flooding at Riverview East. After last year’s visit, the teachers and students were so excited about seeing the dental hygiene students that they didn’t want to cancel the event due to the change in location.

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