Dental Students Recognized for Educating Prisoners About Oral Health

Dentistry Today


Students at the University of Dundee School of Dentistry have received an award from the Oral Health Foundation for their work in improving oral health education among residents of the Scottish Prison Service within HMP Perth.

During the competition, fourth-year dental students were asked to select an area or group in their local community and then raise awareness of oral health by teaching members of that community how to develop good oral health routines.

As part of their dentistry degree, the students work in tandem with voluntary and community organizations that help them reach out to individuals with mental health issues, the homeless, and those with learning disabilities.

For this competition, the Dundee students decided that they would focus on motivation and education among the residents of the Scottish Prison Service, delivered through informational posters and workshops as well as an educational video.

Last July, the school also participated in “Mouth Matters: Bringing Prisons, Criminal Justice, Health, and Oral Health Together to Make Change Happen,” a Scottish National Oral Health initiative aimed at promoting oral health improvement for people in custody.

“This award has been running for a number of years now, and every year our panel of judges are so impressed with the innovation, enthusiasm, and effort put into these projects,” said Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation. 

“Every project that was presented to the panel highlighted several fantastic ways we can get important oral health messages and education to those that are more likely to suffer with dental disease,” said Carter. 

“The winning team showed excellent knowledge of the problems that prisoners face with their oral health. Their solution was extremely sensible, tackled the key issues, and, if rolled out, could have a positive effect on their wellbeing,” said Carter.

“Studies show that prisoners are more likely to suffer from oral diseases, have lower levels of dental treatment, and less motivation to maintain their oral health in comparison to the general population. The oral health of prisoners is often overlooked, so measures need to be implemented as to make it a far greater priority,” said Carter.

“Every student was enthusiastic and passionate about their project and, most importantly, recognized the barriers and challenges of delivering oral health education to more at-risk members of society,” said Carter.

“As a population, it is vital that we continue to work as hard as possible to reduce inequalities and spread positive oral health messages to all members within our communities,” said Carter.

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