Gardening & Gums:
Educating families about gum health using gardening techniques
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Gum disease is not often associated with pain though over 90% of the UK population suffers from some gum disease that is not reversible (NICE, 2021). This means that you can be experiencing early symptoms of gum disease and not be aware of its presence. Untreated gum diseases like gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is an infection that irreversibly destroys the bone that holds your teeth in place (British Dental Journal, 2017). Research has shown that gum disease is linked to increasing your risks of health complications like stroke (41%), Type-2 diabetes (40%) and heart disease (11%) (NHS, 2021; Gibbons 2018). According to the Global Burden of Disease Study (2017), severe periodontal disease was the 11th most prevalent condition in the world. Close to 9% of adults in the UK aged 20-64 have periodontal infections and studies have shown that increasingly people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities from lower socio-economic backgrounds are at greater risk of having gum disease (NIH, 2018). 

The Gardening & Gums follows from the success of our previous Sugarless Green Project (2021). The Gardening & Gums project is part of a larger Communiversity - Values in Action funding grant sponsored by The Church of England. While the Sugarless Green Project focused exclusively on intervention activities conducted within primary school classrooms, the Gardening & Gums initiative explores oral health care through a community based knowledge exchange effort. Through this project, we are seeking to understand how learning about gum disease and oral care in a non-clinical environment might help reduce anxieties associated with dental appointments, and at the same time increase awareness of better gum and dental care. 

What was this about?

The Gardening & Gums project engages families (parents & children) from the Wandsworth Borough local community in a one hour interactive workshop with a specialist Dentist (Dr Jumoke Adeyemi) with expertise in Periodontics from the University of Liverpool. While parents participate in a specialised workshop with our dental expert, their children will simultaneously be engaging in a one-hour activity at our Growhampton campus garden plots, where the children will be using gardening techniques to learn about oral care practices, which is hosted by our university student facilitators. Our facilitators are student volunteers who have been trained to conduct this one hour session with children. For example, the children-centered activities include learning about brushing techniques (e.g., brushing the soil off a carrot which they have uprooted from the garden plot), and they will also be learning about gum care (e.g., the soil is like their gum which holds the carrot in place), which will help reinforce the importance of keeping both gums and teeth clean. 

Highlights of Gardening & Gum Project:

Activity & Participation?

The BDA has noted that Wandsworth is among the top five boroughs which has seen worsening incidences of child tooth decay since 2015 (BDA, 2019), particularly due to the socioeconomic inequalities in the area. As a result of this, we would especially like to invite families from the Wandsworth region to consider participating. 

Parents with children between the ages 5-12 are invited to signup for the workshops which take place over two days Friday 30th July and Saturday 31st July 2021, (which is the second weekend of the school holidays).  

This project is following the Covid-19 government guidance and will be restricting group sizes to maintain safety and accessibility for all participants. During the activities we also have a trained First Aid medical officer on site and supervisors with DBS clearance to work with all children.

 

On July 30th & 31st we had over 100 children registered to participate in activities, approximately 45 to 50 adult participants and 17 Roehampton volunteers. 

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Caption: Photos of children participating in a range of activities led by our expert volunteers.

Interactive Workshop Activities

 

Dr Adejumoke Adeyemi

 

Jumoke as she likes to be known is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Periodontology (gum diseases) at the University of Liverpool. She obtained her dental degree from University of Benin (Nigeria), a master’s degree from the University of Glasgow in 2003 and completed her doctorate degree (PhD) from the University of Liverpool in 2007.  After completing her studies, she decided to stay on in the city and resides in North Liverpool with her husband and her young son.

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She has been involved in undergraduate and postgraduate education since 2006 and has led on the teaching of periodontology at the University since 2015. She completed her specialist training in periodontology in 2020 and obtained the membership in Periodontics from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. She is a member of the British Society of Periodontology and Implant dentistry.

She enjoys treating patients suffering from gum disease and over the years, has treated a large number of patients both in hospital and specialist referral practice settings. As a specialist, she receives referrals to treat patients with a variety of complex or advanced gum needs. She is passionate about helping her patients optimise their oral hygiene so that they prevent and control gum disease.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, dancing and exercising.

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Caption: Dr Adeyemi (top-left) leading the gum & dental education session for parents to help inform them about healthy gum care for the entire family. The session included information on identifying healthy gums and how these differ by race, brushing tips, and general oral care tips like using discharge tablets. 

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Roehampton University Student Facilitators

 

Student volunteers were recruited from across all departments and disciplines at the university. We encouraged students to volunteer as participation will help development their leadership skills and all student volunteers will receive a certificate of participation in this research project. As Principal Investigator I would like to extend a generous thank you to all volunteers on this project, who gave willingly of their time, withstood the rainy weather and were amazing team players. Thank you very much!  

Want to get involved next time?

This project is part of an ongoing series of health intervention and oral education projects (i) Sugarless Green (ii) Gardening & Gums and (iii) The Potato Teeth Project. To get involved in The Potato Teeth Project please email the Project's Principal Investigator Dr Melissa Jogie

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