Oral Health, Total Health (OHTH) is a non-profit organization that gives dental students, dentists, and dental hygienists the chance to advocate, educate, and improve the oral health care of persons with special needs. McGill Dentistry, being part of the OHTH team, holds the annual “Sharing Smiles Day” event in association with the Myriam Home and Services. The goal of the event is to help people with special needs overcome the challenges they face in optimizing their oral health by fostering comfort and care, removing any existent attitudinal barriers, and raising awareness.
“Sharing Smiles Day” consisted of a daytime carnival where participants engaged in fun and educational activities by going through 10 stations that varied from brushing “plaque” off plastic teeth to making their own arts and crafts, followed by playing hockey, singing, dancing, and of course taking some time to relax at the yoga station and showing off their beautiful, unique smiles at the photobooth station! After lunch, participants were taught fun strategies on maintaining a healthy oral hygiene! :)
The event was a great success, but that was only made possible with the help of its great student and faculty volunteers! Every year, the event attracts more and more participants and this year, we were delighted to welcome around 30 participants, 35 volunteers, and 7 Faculty members.
OHTH’s “Sharing Smiles Day” allows us to take a break from our busy clinic hours and to make time for the members of our community that struggle with access to oral healthcare either due to stigma or inaccessibility. It is our duty as future healthcare professionals to lead opportunities for students to connect with the population that surrounds us with the goal of overcoming any uncertainties that may be associated with the treatment of patients with special needs. It also allows us to help the participants develop better oral hygiene habits at home in the hopes of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. We are hoping to expand the project to reach out to even more communities that might benefit from oral health promotion sessions in the future, and we are confident the “Sharing Smiles Day” will remain as successful in the many years to come!