Dental team awarded grant to train children as ‘dental buddies’

Oral health can impact on general health and self-confidence – now children will be able to spread the message thanks to a new grant received by a lecturer at the University of Plymouth and local charity, Well Connected. 

Ruth Potterton, Lecturer in Community Based Dentistry at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School, has been awarded £1,500 to work in partnership with local organisations to develop teams of children as 'dental buddies'.

Children involved will learn about their own oral health and how this impacts on general health, esteem and self-confidence. The dental buddies will champion oral health within their setting, at school and at home.

The funding came from a community service grant awarded by the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy (BSDHT) in collaboration with the Wrigley Company Foundation for use to promote oral health within local communities.

Local Brownie groups and local charity CHICKS, who provide respite holidays for disadvantaged children, will take part in the project with the aim of improving knowledge and oral health. 

The workshops provided by Ruth and the Well Connected team will be a fun and creative way of introducing children to key oral health messages and encourage them to investigate, discover and create.

Ruth said: 

“It’s fantastic to have been successful with the application and we’re delighted with the response from the organisations with whom we are working to deliver ‘dental buddies - one step beyond’. The best thing is that as well as being fun, the dental buddies programme will have a long lasting legacy. Children will share their knowledge with others as well as building a deeper understanding of practical core skills, which last a lifetime and enhance future wellbeing.”

Wendy Smith MBE, Strategic Lead for Well Connected, said: 

“Helping people through teamwork is vitally important to us, and this is a brilliant opportunity to work with colleagues across the dental team and local community to improve knowledge and oral health. Here at Well Connected, we’re also working closely with Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise to see how this project can be developed in the future and expanded to other groups within the South West.”

The project dovetails with the success of the community work delivered within the University’s curriculum – where students work with Well Connected and local organisations as part of their inter professional engagement module.

The Community Engagement Team [CET]

Engaging directly with participants and service users in a unique and meaningful way.

The CET works alongside organisations and projects to support positive lifestyle choices; promoting dental health and well being.

Find out more about the Community Engagement Team