SHAC-Sponsored Event Raises Oral Health Awareness
More than 100 students turned out for a free Dental Health Awareness Fair on April 22 in the Student Activities Center. Sponsored by the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), the fair — which targeted students but was open to faculty and staff — was the brainchild of Krishna Satish, a first-year graduate student in the dual-degree MPH/MAPP program, which is part of Stony Brook University’s Graduate Program in Public Health. Seven third- and fourth-year students from the School of Dental Medicine performed the screenings under the supervision of three general practice residents.
Satish, who is a pre-dental student and the graduate chair for SHAC, said she came up with the idea for the fair because of her discipline’s emphasis on access to care for all.
“An event like this has never been done before so publicly here in the SAC. A lot of students aren’t aware of the oral behaviors they are exhibiting that could be detrimental to their health,” she said. “I was targeting students who go to school here and don’t necessarily have time to take care of their mouths.”
After the SHAC student body approved the idea for the fair, Satish approached Hugh Finch, DDS, the director of Admissions and Student Affairs in the Office of Education at the School of Dental Medicine, to set up the event.
“When I got the call from Krishna and she introduced the idea of an oral health awareness fair, I jumped at the opportunity to work with her. We put it together, piece by piece, setting up the screenings. It all came together and we had an unprecedented turnout here,” he said.
Dr. Finch, who supervised the fair, explained that the screenings performed were not full comprehensive exams but visual inspections to detect serious abnormalities and cavities. “This event was more about education and to raise oral health awareness in general, telling the students about brushing and oral hygiene, and going over some of their habits,” he said. “We saw a lot of basic cavities in people who didn’t know they had them, as well as a lot of swelling from wisdom teeth coming in.”
In addition to the oral health screenings, students were able to visit with representatives from the following Stony Brook health and leadership organizations: Campus Emergency Response Team, Center for Prevention and Outreach with Peer Health Educators Chill and CHOICE, Commuter Student Organization, International Student Organization, LEAD, LGBTA, LIAAC, Organization of Public Health Students and Alumni, Pre-Dental Society, Pre-Physicians Assistant Club, SB HEALS, School of Dental Medicine, Seawolves Against Cancer and SHAC. LIAAC (Long Island Association for AIDS Care) conducted free and anonymous HIV and hepatitis C screenings.
Based on the success of the Dental Health Awareness Fair, plans are in the works to hold similar events, maybe in the spring and fall semesters, said Dr. Finch.
“If the students are even a little more aware of oral health and what’s involved in maintaining it, then I think we would have accomplished our goal,” he said.
— Susan Tito