School visit

INTRODUCTION: The oral health in Tanzania is far from being satisfactory. The recent studies conducted in this field showed that the knowledge level of children about the importance of oral health was poor. Dental caries as one of the oral health diseases is the most common chronic disease of children aged 5 to 11 years - five times more common than asthma. Many studies suggest that magnitude and severity of dental caries in primary and permanent teeth continue to be a major problem and should receive special attention. The four most accepted measures for prevention of dental caries and its complications are: oral hygiene, dietary counseling, fluoride, and fissure sealant. The first two measures do not require much expenditure. They can be implemented in any place via an educational program. Good hygiene and diet can prevent periodontal disease and dental caries. Many studies provided evidence of strong association between caries development and poor hygiene. Almost all preventive programs usually include oral hygiene instructions or educational part of oral hygiene.

OBJECTIVES:  The objective of the project was to train children in the classrooms to promote healthy behaviors regarding dental care and to increase the knowledge and behaviors of children regarding oral hygiene by 20%.

METHODOLOGY: The target group for this project was the children aged 5-11years old. The project team consisted of 5 members was formed and the selection of the visited schools was done followed by seeking permission from the authorities mean while the letters were sent to the schools. Total of 5 schools accepted the project. The program included presentations, lectures by health educators and instructions about proper ways of brushing and flossing teeth, with illustrations and video demonstrations. All the participants from the primary schools received a toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste from Colgate Palmolive Company.

The project begun with a meeting of team members in which we had a briefing of the project and discussion on how to conduct the project. The team consisted of 5 members, 4 of which were the educators and one for media coverage who made sure there was coverage of whole project. On publication of the project we had a decision that each one has a designed t-shirt with the project name and logo of each partner organization. We had letters written to the authorities for permission to conduct the project and due to the timing and schedule we were able to visit 5 schools with total of 2650 students. The project had two phases, one was the education phase and the second phase was the evaluation phase. The education phase involved the use of animations, songs, verbal and demonstration on how to take care of oral health, this ensured the fully participation of the students in the process of learning. The plan was to distribute the toothpaste and toothbrush to each student during the education phase but unfortunately our partner Colgate was out of stock so we distributed them during the evaluation phase. During the evaluation phase we had samples from each visited schools that were given a written questionnaire with few questions on oral health regarding what they have been taught during the education phase. This gave us the insight on how successful our project was.

The project was of a great success, before the project to most of the visited primary schools, most of the children were not aware on how to take care of their oral hygiene mostly on how to clean their oral cavities. The project involved the use of animations and songs that the students shown and recited them over and over. At the end of project there was survey to measure the knowledge on oral health to the taught children using a prepared short questionnaire. The result was more than 90% were able to answer all the questions correct and this indicated that the project was of great success in raising the knowledge and understanding on oral health to primary students.