Narrative Reflection of the past brings awareness and comprehension to why inequities in oral health exist and continue to pose major public health threats, how public oral health policies have developed and been implemented, where innovations in oral health have occurred, what oral health care means to overall health, and who has been and can be responsible for shaping the trajectory of the dental profession. By translating these larger humanities-based themes into interactive, age-appropriate, and NGSS oriented lessons, P-12 learners will gain an understanding of how oral health care has progressed and impacted the world around them, as well as how they too can fit into the continuing story of dentistry and oral health. To accomplish this goal, the project will create accessible, freely available educational modules that combine the health sciences, humanities, and STEM to increase oral health literacy and awareness of pathways to the dental and dental research professions.
Project Summary The oral health field is rapidly changing. There is now more opportunity than ever to join the oral health workforce as a dental, dental allied, or dental, oral and craniofacial (DOC) research professional to help transform the landscape of oral health care. Yet, even with improved opportunities, social and economic inequality, structural discrimination, and a fragmented health care system have resulted in continued disparities and in access to the profession for marginalized groups. The purpose of the proposed project is to establish high levels of oral health literacy that is meant to translate into improved overall health for all individuals and communities across the lifespan by creating accessible and easily disseminated educational modules that combine the health sciences, STEM, and the humanities. Through exploring historical case studies, investigating advancements in dental technology, learning about trailblazers in dentistry from diverse backgrounds, and understanding how cultures have regarded oral health throughout history P-12 learners will gain an understanding of how oral health care has progressed and how they too can fit into the story of the profession, whether that means becoming better patients through learning about proper oral health care or by starting on the path to join the dental profession after learning about its importance, inclusivity, and impact on the world around them with these modules. Modules tailored to different grade levels will ensure that learners are not only receiving developmentally appropriate materials, but that they have opportunities to reengage with the modules at various points along their educational trajectories, reinforcing awareness of the pathways to the dental, dental allied, and DOC research professions, continuing enrichment of personal oral health practices, and how they can one day advance the field of dentistry even further as future DOC researchers. Through three specific aims, learners will gain an understanding of how oral health care has progressed and impacted the world around them, as well as how they too can fit into the story of dentistry and oral health: Aim 1. Develop educational modules exploring the history of oral health care and the dental profession that provide integral context to the past, present, and future of professional dentistry; dental public health; equity and diversity; and DOC research. Aim 2. Disseminate educational modules to P-12 audiences. Aim 3. Evaluate the impact of the educational modules.