Oral health project addresses dental needs of prison inmates
DUNDEE, Scotland: Dental students from the University of Dundee have won an award for an innovative oral health project aimed at benefitting prison inmates. The award was presented by Dr Nigel Carter, OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, while on a recent visit to the university’s School of Dentistry as part of a panel to judge community oral health projects.
Fourth-year dental students were asked to select an area or group in the local community and then challenged to raise awareness of oral health by showing community members how to develop good oral health routines. As part of their dentistry programme, the students worked alongside voluntary and community organisations which helped them reach out to individuals with mental health issues, the homeless and those with learning disabilities.
The winning group of students was tasked with tackling the issue of oral health for the inmates of the Scottish Prison Service within HM Prison Perth. The project focused mainly on motivation and education and was delivered through informational posters and workshops, as well as an educational video.
Carter said: “Every project that was presented to the panel highlighted several fantastic ways we can get important oral health messages and education to those that are more likely to suffer with dental disease.”
He continued, “The winning team showed excellent knowledge of the problems that prisoners face with their oral health. Their solution was extremely sensible, tackled the key issues and, if rolled out, could have a positive effect on their well-being.”
“Studies show that prisoners are more likely to suffer from oral diseases, have lower levels of dental treatment and less motivation to maintain their oral health in comparison to the general population. The oral health of prisoners is often overlooked so measures need to be implemented as to make it a far greater priority,” Carter added.
The winning group was chosen by a panel of oral health experts, including Carter, who commented: “Every student was enthusiastic and passionate about their project and most importantly, recognised the barriers and challenges of delivering oral health education to more at-risk members of society. As a population, it is vital that we continue to work as hard as possible to reduce inequalities and spread positive oral health messages to all members within our communities.”