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ADHA Providing Oral Health Education to Las Vegas’ Homeless Youth

Posted on June 17, 2014

Chicago (June 16, 2014) — The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) — in conjunction with its 2014 ADHA Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) and 91st Annual Session (AS) taking place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas June 18-24, 2014 — is partnering with the Las Vegas community to help improve the overall health and lives of the city’s homeless youth, as well as strengthen their oral hygiene awareness and instill positive oral health habits.

On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, the ADHA, with sponsorship from the Wrigley Company Foundation and support from numerous corporate partners, will demonstrate a commitment to giving back to the community by providing oral health education to homeless teenagers in Las Vegas. Dental manufacturers 3M ESPE, ACT, Colgate, Crest Oral-B, Hu-Friedy, Johnson & Johnson and Premier have all donated generously to ensure that the youths receive home-care products to reinforce what they will learn at the event.

Las Vegas is the setting for the ADHA’s convention, the CLL at the 91st Annual Session, with nearly 2,000 attendees at the meeting. Dental hygienists from across the country will gather for professional development, continuing education, exhibits, networking and social events, and the ADHA’s annual business meeting. CLL kicks off on Wednesday with Community Service Day, bringing registered dental hygienists and dental hygiene students together in a volunteer outreach event.

“Dental hygienists are proud to give back to our communities as volunteer oral health professionals,” said ADHA President Denise Bowers, RDH, PhD. “Community Service Day affords us the tremendous opportunity to do just that. Together, we can make a difference.”

The dental hygienists will bus to the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center, a residential facility for teenagers who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Using educational posters prepared by students at the College of Southern Nevada Dental Hygiene Program, the volunteers will set up education stations outdoors. The teens will be divided into groups that rotate from display to display, each featuring a different oral health topic geared toward young adults. In addition to basic information about taking care of their teeth and oral tissue for a lifetime, participants will learn about the oral health implications of eating disorders, sports drinks, oral piercing, recreational drug use, pregnancy, diabetes and more. They will also learn about careers in the oral health care field, which aligns with the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center’s efforts to prepare youths to succeed as adults. After visiting all of the tables, the teens will receive goodie bags filled with products that will help them apply their new knowledge.

The impact of a healthy mouth and an aesthetically pleasing smile play an important role in anyone’s self-confidence, and young adults’ in particular.

“Dental hygienists know and embrace the importance of a healthy smile,” said ADHA Executive Director Ann Battrell, MSDH. “The ADHA is so proud to support the community in Las Vegas through our volunteer dental hygiene leaders.”

ADHA President-Elect Kelli Swanson Jaecks, RDH, MA, who will be installed as 2014-2015 president of the ADHA at the meeting, agreed, noting that “our profession was founded on oral health care prevention and providing services to the public. We believe that every citizen should have direct access to a dental hygienist. Volunteering is one way we as a profession can help meet the oral health care needs of the public.”