As part of her Masters in Public Health MPH Elizabeth Nfor decided to travel to Cameroon Africa. She donated supplies and taught the children about good oral hygiene
Over the past decade tooth decay has been a public health concern, in adults and children alike. Although much has been done to curb this problem worldwide, a lot still needs to be done. Being an oral health professional I thought I could be a part of the intervention team by coming up with a project that would involve educating children in elementary schools on the importance of their oral health, the effects of poor oral hygiene and how to maintain a good oral hygiene, in order to prevent disease. I believe that if these children would understand these things they would want to maintain a good oral hygiene, and this has been proven by many different studies and also by a health behaviour theory known as the Health Belief Model( HBM).
Two years ago I went to visit my family in Cameroon and decided to take some oral hygiene supplies with me, and I visited an elementary school in one of the rural areas and an orphanage where my family and I gave out about 500 tooth brushes and other supplies to children after educating them on how to, when to, and how often they should brush and floss. This motivated me to come up with an actual program when I had to do my practicum for my Public Health Practice (PHP)- MPH/Global Health degree. This time I had donations of over 500 tooth brushes, toothpaste, flosses, etc. and Watkin dental in both of my ventures had been of great support.
For my project, I went to a rural area in the central region of Cameroon, West Africa, for three weeks, where I actually had hours allocated for me to educate the children in two elementary schools. I taught these children the importance of their oral health with respect to their overall health, Effects of poor oral hygiene (with tooth decay as the main focus), and also how to maintain a good oral hygiene. During this time the children learned, by watching videos and slide shows on how their oral health affects the rest of their body systems, what causes tooth decay, and how it occurs, and finally how to brush and floss properly to prevent oral infections especially tooth decay. We had many demonstrations done in class, and in the last week of the program the children brushed and flossed their teeth. We used disclosing solution that the children rinsed with and were able to tell the spots they missed( fun). By the end of the program, the children were able to properly brush and floss their teeth.
Many of these children had a lot of oral health concerns that they could not get help for because of the lack of access to the care they would need, and also because neither them or their parents are aware of what is happening in their mouth, all they know is they are having some pain which hopefully might subside some day – in the case of decay. I saw many heart-breaking oral conditions that caused me to start thinking my next project would be raising funds and going a little further than educating these children but also locating the closest dental service available and paying for these children to have their oral health needs met.