On their first visit to the Mayflower Community School, the second year students, from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, discovered that the school does not have access to a dentist and that dental care only happened in an emergency.
They also found that a number of the pupils did not clean their teeth, and that several of them had a real fear of dentists.
The students are involving pupils and parents in a number of fun activities designed to address these issues.
A student, from the group of dental students, commented: 'Regular and effective brushing pays dividends to oral health, which is why it is so important to ensure that children know how to brush their teeth properly from a young age.
'It is also important that youngsters grow up without a fear of the dentist – modern dental training and techniques are very mindful of this and we often find that, as well as removing the fear of the dentist from one child, we also achieve that with the rest of their family!'
The pupils were taken through for fun ‘dental stations’. At the first, they were asked to brush their teeth and then use a special dental dye which highlights the bits they missed to see how effective their brushing had really been.
The second station helped to address fear of the dentist. The pupils were given a special dentist’s outfit to wear and invited to role play as a dentist and look into one of the dental student’s mouth.
The third station was all about diet and the effect of sugar on teeth, while the fourth allowed pupils to try different flavoured toothpastes.
Robert Witton, clinical lead in social engagement, Peninsula Social Dental Enterprise, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, added: 'Our thanks go to organisations such as Mayflower Community School that allow us to work so closely with them.'
By engaging with the wider family, the dental students hope that good oral health can be replicated at home and that more families are encouraged to seek dental treatment at one of the two Dental Education Facilities in Plymouth.
At the Dental Education Facilities dental students, as part of their training, treat NHS patients under the supervision of qualified dental health professionals.