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NIDCR Staff Visit Jefferson Junior High School

NIDCR's Dr. Caswell Evans and Dr. Jamie Foster recently visited a science class at Jefferson Junior High School in Washington, D.C., a school known for its focus on science. Institute staff talked about the Surgeon General's report on oral health and conducted a hands-on science activity.

"I was very pleased that the level of interest in science was so high," said Foster, who gave a talk on how bacteria affect the development of oral tissues in animals. She also led an activity in which students placed their own dental plaque under a microscope lens and viewed oral bacteria. "The students were all very interested in participating in the activity, which was gratifying," she added.

Dr. Jamie Foster (l) and Jefferson Junior High School students prepare to view oral bacteria in dental plaque.

Evans discussed the findings from the Surgeon General's report on oral health, focusing on two of its themes — the link between oral health and general well being as well as the issue of oral health disparities. He talked about the importance of the oral health/general health connection, using real life examples such as the oral complications of diabetes, which one student's relative had experienced. Evans also broached the subject of health disparities among certain populations. He encouraged students to think about research careers, perhaps focusing their efforts on studying and eliminating such disparities in their own communities. Seeking out health information and becoming educated health consumers were other topics he raised with the students. Each student received materials about oral health and information on training opportunities.

Science teacher Phyllis Harvey-Buschell said she was excited and pleased to have NIDCR staff visit. She noted that such visits are critical to increasing students' awareness of research careers and underscore the importance of seeking out health information.

Two Jefferson students were among the winners of last year's poster contest — "Healthy Mouths-Healthy Bodies" — held in conjunction with the release of the Surgeon General's report on oral health.

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