Dentists in Primary Schools – Students making a difference

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Service Learning (SL), Teaching and Learning | 0 comments

Article written by Samuel Hurley, Social Responsibility and Public Engagement Intern

Greater Manchester has one of the worst rates of child dental decay in the UK, with 1 in 3 children under 5 experiencing dental decay. Additionally, dental extractions are the leading cause of childhood hospital admissions in the UK – this is largely preventable with good oral hygiene and a healthy diet. Motivated to help address this issue, in 2020, students in the Manchester Paediatric Dentistry Student Society (MPDSS) set up the Dentists in Primary Schools (DiPS) project.

Students and primary school children are sat around a table. The students are showing the pupils models and props

Student members of MPDSS teaching primary school pupils about dental health during an outreach session.

The main aim of the project is to implement engaging oral health sessions in primary schools across Greater Manchester, especially those in socially-deprived areas. The hope is that the initiative will encourage healthy oral hygiene practice, whilst providing dental students an opportunity to develop their communication skills with children.
Since 2021, the project has reached over 500 children – with plans to work with many more. Typically, the team engage with Key Stage 1 (years 1-2) but will engage with earlier and later years if requested by a school.

During their sessions, DiPS assign pairs of dental students to teach a group of 4-6 children. The groups rotate around various different stations designed to tackle different topics within dentistry and oral health, including: oral hygiene, healthy eating, and visiting the dentist.
After each session, goodie bags containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, stickers, and an informational leaflet for parents are given to the children, providing them the means for good dental practice outside the classroom. To communicate dental hygiene with as many families as possible, these leaflets have been translated into Urdu, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi and Chinese.

MPDSS winners stand in front of a Making a Difference Poster board

The MPDSS awardees at the Making a Difference awards ceremony.

In recognition of their outstanding community work, MPDSS were the Student Winners for the 2023 Making a Difference awards under the ‘Outstanding public and community engagement initiatives’ category.

The award was credited to: Yasmin Egonu (Project Lead), Rachel Lee (Project Lead), Olivia Nelson (Volunteering Officer), and Annabel Johnson (School Liaison Officer).

“It was a great honour to be recognised for our efforts to engage with the community and give opportunities to dental students. The days of juggling studies, work, the society (and maybe a social life) have paid off!” – Yasmin Egonu, Project Lead.

Find out more about MPDSS and keep an eye out for their future plans:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • BITEsize Paediatrics podcast – A podcast ran by MPDSS aiming to improve public and student engagement with paediatric dentistry, and to showcase the great advances and research that is being conducted in the field.