Washington Students Celebrate 'Christmas in November' at College of Dentistry

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of students from District of Columbia schools will celebrate "Christmas in November" later this month thanks to the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in the College of Dentistry.

More than 300 students from the Howard University Middle School of Math and Science, Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, Christian Tabernacle Child Development Center and the Bright Horizons daycare centers will receive free dental screenings from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 30 on the second floor of the College of Dentistry.

The event was planned by College of Dentistry faculty members Dr. Melanie Thwaites and Dr. LaToya Barham, in partnership with the National Children's Oral Health Foundation and the Washington chapter of The LINKS, Inc.

Barham, an assistant professor in the College of Dentistry and the clinic coordinator, said this is the first year the college has held such an event.

"We began planning this event by asking ourselves 'How can we serve more children here in the clinic,'" Barham said.

'Christmas in November' will begin with a dental education program provided by the college's Department of Dental Hygiene. The event is invitation-only. The students will receive healthcare instruction and tips and hygiene kits.

Immediately following the educational session, students will receive a basic visual check-up exam by one of the 12 residents of the pediatric clinic. The residents will assess the students' teeth, checking to see if there are any signs of decay. If any issues are detected, students will be referred to their dentist and parents will decide how to proceed. Any students without a dental home will be encouraged to establish one.

"We want to show that we care about all children, regardless of their socioeconomic standing," Barham said.

The purpose of 'Christmas in November' is to bridge the gap between oral healthca-re and the availability of children to be seen with both quality and compassionate care, Barham said.

For second-year resident Jennifer Darden, 'Christmas in November' will hopefully better expose children to proper oral healthcare.

"I hope it will get children talking with their parents about their oral hygiene," Darden said. "I want to really get them motivated."

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