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DH Students Begin Winter Break as Ibn Sina Volunteers

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 4:04pm

 Volunteers at the Ibn Sina Health Fair include (standing, from left) Janessa Block, dental hygiene students Monique Arellano and Esmeralda Diaz; Malorie Okuhara, RDH, president-elect of the Greater Houston Dental Hygienists’ Society; and student Daniel Badillo. Kneeling from left are Amanda Pena, student Leticia Villareal, and Katrina Knox.

Among volunteers at the Ibn Sina Health Fair were (standing, from left) Janessa Block, students Monique Arellano and Esmeralda Diaz; Greater Houston Dental Hygienists’ Society President-Elect Malorie Okuhara, RDH; and student Daniel Badillo. Kneeling from left are Amanda Pena, student Leticia Villareal,  Katrina Knox and student Elizabeth Alvarado.

Seven dental hygiene students from The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston volunteered at a health fair sponsored by the Ibn Sina Foundation on Dec. 8, where low-income families were provided with free services such as immunizations, flu shots, diabetic screening and education; oral cancer and caries screening; and oral health instructions.

The students helped by setting up the rooms, providing oral hygiene instructions and assisting four registered dental hygienists and two volunteer dentists. The students also taught correct brushing techniques, flossing, and explained how cavities are formed and prevented.

Clinical Assistant Professor Victoria Patrounova, RHD, MHA, said it was an eye-opening experience for the students, as they saw about 60 patients with extensive needs for dental care the patients couldn’t afford.  She also praised the students for volunteering on short notice and on a Saturday that was their first day of winter break, immediately after final exams.

First-year dental hygiene student Esmeralda Diaz said delivering oral health instructions to the patients was a challenge because of the large groups. “I couldn’t teach each person individually or in a group of five,” she said. “I had to teach a group of 10 patients, including family or friends they brought along.”

Students encouraged the health fair participants to ask questions as a way to make sure the instructions were understood. Leticia Villareal, another first-year dental hygiene student, was asked to translate several times.

“Being bilingual really came in handy in this situation and made me realize that it will definitely help me in my profession,” she said, adding that the event helped her see first-hand the importance of access to care.  

“Everyone, no matter what social class they belong to, should be able to have access to health care,” she said.