World Oral Health Day

By Julie Bencosme
Associate Professor
Allied Health Sciences, Dental Hygiene

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated every year on the 20th of March. It is an international day to celebrate the benefit of a healthy mouth. It is also to promote worldwide awareness of the issue around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene for everyone.

On March 20, 2015, Prof. Julie Bencosme of the Dental Hygiene Unit, held an educational event on the bridge. Prof. Bencosme and her students provide dental supplies and educated individuals on oral health disparities. Participants of the event were also informed of the services provided in the Dental Hygiene Patient Care Facility here at Hostos. The event was sponsored by a generous donation of supplies from the Hispanic Dental Association.

This activity is an excerpt of Prof. Bencosme’s course Dental Health Education. In this course students learn about cultural competency and cultural sensitivity. Objectives of cultural competencies are: 1.Communicate effectively with individuals from diverse groups. 2. Provide care to all patients using an individualized approach that is empathetic and caring  It is imperative that dental hygiene students are aware of cultural differences among their patients. A person’s culture and language greatly impacts their health. The course discusses the different cultures throughout the world and how each culture responds to health.

Prof. Bencosme engages her students in a class activity that creates empathy for the student’s patients. The students are asked questions from a medical history in several foreign languages. Unable to answer question, the students exhibit frustration of not understanding the language. The students then realize just how important clear and effective communication is when treating patients, especially those who are not proficient in the English language.

The burden of oral disease is higher among poor, immigrant and disadvantage populations. According, to the National Alliance for Hispanic Health: Study of Latinos, 2014, 7out of 10 Hispanic women ages 45-74 had at least one tooth missing. 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral disease in their lifetime. Worldwide, between 60%and 90% of children have dental caries. Many dental diseases can be avoided with increase governmental, health association and society support.

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