UCSF Participates in First Lessons in a Lunch Box Oral Health Literacy Program

Contributor
School of Dentistry

Lessons in a Lunch Box: Healthy Teeth Essentials & Facts About Snacks® is a new oral health literacy program designed to empower children and their families with proper knowledge about routine dental care, oral health maintenance, good dietary choices and more. Using a “dentally designed” lunch box, the uniquely crafted container illustrates flossing and brushing instructions and healthy nutritional information.

On March 4, 2015, the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) at UCSF School of Dentistry participated in the first Lessons in a Lunch Box program. In collaboration with The Children’s Oral Health Institute (COHI), SNDA presented preventative dental care products, oral hygiene instruction and nutritional information to 180 students at Starr King Elementary School in the Potrero Hill district of San Francisco. “Students from Potrero Annex…are in desperate need of dental care!” said school nurse Judy Thompson.

Prior to the event, COHI and SNDA collaborated in the shipment of all lunch boxes directly to Starr King Elementary. SNDA then recruited 4 dental students and 8 post baccalaureate students from California State University San Francisco, to teach 9 classes to 180 students in grades 1-3.

Volunteers in each classroom presented elementary school students with fun dental-related activities. The students were excited to learn and answer our questions about healthy nutritional snacking habits. They were even more amazed to learn about plaque build-up and the tooth decay process.

Then, all seven labels inside a demo lunch box were presented and explained to the elementary school students. Students learned about the organized dentistry supporting the Lessons in a Lunch Box program, the proper way to brush teeth, healthy food charts, and Dental Care in a Carrot Case.  The case was opened to display the contents, which included a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss.

After the large group activities, the volunteers directly demonstrated brushing and flossing techniques on a typodont models with small groups of elementary children. The lunch boxes were distributed to the students at the end of each classroom session.

The one-of-a-kind Lessons in a Lunch Box program was first introduced to SNDA through the 2014 NDA National Convention held in New Orleans, LA. The program has now reached 33 states. With the ever expanding commitment of organized dentistry this initiative will have more “boots on the ground” to increase dental health awareness and effectively impact elementary schools in other states.