UMMC to study improving oral health in tweens, teens, caregivers

High School Students

Researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Dentistry are studying how different educational interventions affect oral hygiene in middle and high school students and their caretakers.

Researchers aim to determine whether teaching these students about oral health reduces future tooth decay and if involving their parents or guardians enhances the outcome, according to university news published on May 13.

"The target population of 12-14-year-old children, the length of the study and the type of intervention has not been researched in this combination of factors, so we are very interested to see what will come after months of studying this group of participants," Dr. Elizabeth Carr, MDH, RDH, chair of the department of dental hygiene and principal investigator of the study, said in the story.

Combined with limited dental insurance coverage, a lack of awareness about the importance of dental care and its impact on overall health makes it a lower priority for many people. High-risk populations for dental caries are influenced by social determinants of health, such as low socioeconomic status, limited access to dental services, and low education levels, according to the story.

During the initial phase of the 30-month study, oral exams were conducted on 69 fourth to ninth graders in the South Delta School District to record decayed, missing, and filled teeth. This data will serve as a baseline for subsequent evaluations of each student every six months.

For the remainder of the study, students will be divided into three groups. The control group will receive a bag of oral health supplies. The second group will receive the same bag plus oral health presentations, and the final group will receive the supplies and oral health presentations for students and their caregivers, according to the story.

The research project is part of the Mississippi Population Oral Health Collaborative (MPOHC), a partnership between the UMMC School of Dentistry and the Mississippi State Department of Health. The initiative aims to provide care to vulnerable populations and increase oral health education in Mississippi, with a strategic goal of reducing tooth decay in children.

MPOHC has partnered with the UMMC Center for Telehealth to connect with school nurses in 668 schools statewide. The partnership facilitates live educational sessions and helps nurses address dental emergencies and identify causes of pain. Additionally, they created a contact list of dentists for schools to use as a resource and referral source for students' guardians, according to the story.

"The importance of partnering with other groups that are striving for the same aim has been essential in establishing our programs of serving the people of Mississippi," Carr said.

Page 1 of 223
Next Page