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Toon in to Health : Four Special Cartoon Books Bring Dental Health to Kids

To honor Thailand’s HRH Queen Sirikit on her 72nd birthday, August 12, 2005, the Faculty of Dentistry created four specially designed cartoon books for children to develop healthy oral habits and stimulate their self-learning skills.

“The goal of the Department of Community Dentistry was to teach rural kids effective tooth brushing techniques and the importance of oral hygiene – it was the main factor in producing this children’s literature,” conveyed Associate Professor Reda Kasetsuwan, Department Chair. “To my way of thinking, healthy oral behaviors are the key to general health.”

As a project of their Health Education Media Course and with an initial government budget of 1 million baht (US $28,500) the Fourth Year Students created four cartoon books with different themes. Book One is called, What are Teeth? Book Two, Beautiful Smile, Book Three, The Magic Wand and Book Four, “Oral Health.”

These themes were set so that young children, especially the students in the Police Border Schools, would learn more about growth and human development.

Third Year Students, as part of their Research Methodology Course, carried out the second phase of the project. They pilot-tested the four books for two months in Police Border Patrol Schools sharing feedback from the students to perfect the media.

“After finalizing the templates, we published 250 books for the 190 Police Border Patrol Schools in time to present to HRH Queen Sirikit on the auspicious occasion of her Sixth Cycle Birthday Anniversary. Thai people consider every 12 years as an important cycle and like the Chinese custom, celebrate every 12 years with particular pomp and honor,” explained Ajarn Reda.

The four books have been continually used in the schools and the most popular book in the series, The Magic Wand, was reprinted in 500 copies so that other schools in Bangkok and the outlying provinces could access this unique educational material. Schools can request this book simply by writing to The Faculty.

“What I like most about this project is that it uses creativity for social service – the idea that the toothbrush can be a magic wand is a fun way to reinforce dental health practices for Thai villagers. In addition, The team efforts of the Third and Fourth Year Students in creating, producing testing and finalizing the books, as part of their normal coursework, makes it a complete learning circle,” beamed Ajarn Reda.

The books are stimulating learning instruments that activate the students in that each page includes stories to read and questions to check the pupil’s understanding.

For instance, student are asked where the toothbrush originated and have to choose a) Egypt, b) Thailand, c) China or d) India. They are asked why we brush our teeth and choose from a) to make them clean, b) I don’t know, c) I like to brush or d) no need. Even when they pick the wrong answer, they can find out the correct choice (for example, the first toothbrush came from China) from a pullout section built into the book.

Other topics detailed in the series include kinds of toothbrushes, characteristics of toothbrushes, how to hold the toothbrush, brushing techniques, how to care for the brush, consequences of incorrect use and benefits of brushing.

The next phase of the project is twofold. “One plan we have is to follow-up with the ajarns in the 190 Police Border Patrol Schools and the other 200 schools who requested The Magic Wand for more content-based ideas and presentation techniques to better convey the information.”

“The second is for The Faculty to translate these books in other languages – Khmer, Lao, Vietnamese and Chinese - to make our social service extend beyond our borders to promote oral health throughout Asia,” projected Ajarn Reda

“Here at The Faculty, when we think of community dentistry it means more than just welfare for the Thai village, but a regional community pooling their resources as best they can,” summarized Ajarn Reda.

In order maintain this vital community support mechanism and expand its scope to the greater Asian region, non-government organizations are needed. We invite you to contact our Faculty to become involved in this special project and keep increasing the project’s effective and positive results.

Reference : Faculty of Dentistry, Mahidol University. Directions Magazine. Issue 2/2007. Page 23-26. (ISSN 1905-2588)


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