Dental Hygiene Students Provide Oral Health Education to more than 600 Keiki

On October 7, 2018, 34 dental hygiene students and 4 faculty provided valuable oral health education to children and their families at the 2018 Hawaii Children and Youth Day at the state capital. UH Manoa Dental Hygiene was pleased to support this 25th annual event that inspires keiki in Hawaii. Attendees enjoyed more than 140 booths and activities for children and families.

Dental hygiene education at health fair

The State of Hawaii is ranked as #1 for the worst pediatric oral health outcomes in the nation so reaching children and families at such a large event was a special gift UHM Dental Hygiene students provided to the community. The oral health education included tooth brushing and flossing education with the use of fun, friendly puppets as well as education on reducing sugary drinks in children’s diet called “rethink your drink.” In addition to the education, children were able to visit with the tooth fairy!

dental hygiene students providing education to kids

The NAWSON Dental Hygiene program enhanced the BS curriculum to increase pediatric education and clinical experiences for students using funding received in 2018 from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). Deborah Mattheus, PhD, CPNP, APRN-Rx, assistant professor in nursing and project director partnered with the dental hygiene department to create the post-BS Expanded Function in Dental Hygiene (EFDH) Certificate in Pediatrics that educates licensed dental hygienists on the care of infants and young children.

The school Dental Hygiene Clinic continues to provide dental services to young keiki. Local Head Start sites bring students ages 3-5 years to UH Manoa – with prior consent from parents – for a healthy keiki lifestyle field trip which includes dental care. According to Deborah Mattheus, “The activities supported by the HRSA grant are important for the keiki and their families in Hawaii. Good oral hygiene practices not only reduce caries, but also supports a person’s overall health and quality of life. We are grateful for this opportunity to positively contribute to the State’s oral health vision and for our dental hygiene students to be part of this very important progress.”

For more information about the UHM Dental Hygiene Program and activities, contact Dental Hygiene department chair, Kristine Osada, RDH, BSDH, MEd, at

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