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UMSOD Volunteers Reach Out to Maryland's Hispanic Community

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Written by Adam Zewe

The giraffe sat perfectly still while the young child carefully brushed its teeth. This particular giraffe, a stuffed animal with a plastic mouth, served as a teaching tool for kids at the Langley Park Day health fair on May 4. A team of University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) faculty and staff provided oral hygiene instructions and demonstrations during the annual event.

Sixteen volunteers with the UMSOD student chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) taught more than 75 children about the importance of brushing and flossing during the health fair in Langley Park, Md. They played health-themed games with the children, like a version of Twister with food groups instead of colors. The students also provided props and outfits so kids could dress up and play dentist. "By playing games with the kids, we taught them about dentistry and the importance of oral health without them even realizing they were learning," states Daniela Loebl, DDS '16, president of the HDA chapter.

The outreach event offered an important opportunity to share oral health information with an underserved population. For many residents of Langley Park, which is one of the most densely populated Hispanic communities in Maryland, English is a second language. By providing Spanish-language brochures and verbal instructions for adults, the HDA volunteers were able to connect with parents who spoke little or no English. "Some parents pulled out their phones and started photographing their children dressing up as dentists. Hopefully that image sticks with them and they remember how important it is to have a healthy mouth," Loebl says.

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  • Posting Date: 05/20/2014