Ann Arbor, MI — April 17, 2012 — A dental hygiene student in the University of Michigan School of Dentistry’s E-Learning Program, and two other dental hygiene students in the on-campus program, will receive major awards from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry for their community research and education initiatives during the National Oral Health Conference in Milwaukee on April 30.
1st Place — Jennifer Cullen
Jennifer Cullen, RDH, a student in the School’s Degree Completion E-Learning program, will receive a First Place award for developing an oral health education program for staff who provide care to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Cullen said her interest in the topic began in high school.
Once a week for six weeks, she addressed the specific needs identified by staff who care for the patients. “My program was the first that presented information about the importance of oral health, and many staff who participated were unaware of interrelationships between oral and systemic health,” Cullen said. “Knowing that, I developed materials that provided helpful and practical information and also demonstrated certain techniques staff could use to help those they care for.” That included sharing strategies to manage care resistant behavior among residents of the Ann Arbor facility.
Cullen said the interest of the staff was gratifying. “Knowing they were interested and took time to listen to the information I provided was personally rewarding. But the real beneficiaries are the residents.” Cullen, who works at a private practice in Ann Arbor, said she is pleased with the positive feedback she has received and hopes this will become an on-going program.
2nd Place — Ashley Copus, Julia Johnson
Ashley Copus and Julia Johnson, both fourth-year dental hygiene students, will receive a Second Place award for their oral health care education program at the Michigan Federal Correctional Institution in Milan. The low-security facility houses male inmates awaiting pretrial court hearings.
Their three-week program gave inmates a better understanding of the relationship between oral health and diabetes and periodontal disease. They also demonstrated proper oral health care practices, including tooth brushing.
During their initial visit, Copus and Johnson conducted periodontal charting and recorded the disease status of inmates with diabetes and gave them a test to assess their oral health care knowledge. Using that information, Copus and Johnson developed a customized oral health care education program that detailed interrelationships between oral health and general health. A follow-up test revealed a greater awareness among the inmates of the link between diabetes and oral health and the importance of proper oral health care.
“Many inmates we talked to did not realize their risk for gum disease was higher because of their diabetes, nor did they know how often they should see a dentist,” Copus said. “They also did not know about proper oral hygiene practices they should use.”
Johnson said that after the presentations, inmates made follow-up dental appointments for treatment of their condition with the dentist and dental hygienist at the facility.
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care, and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the School to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia, and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.