Before Dr. Hamlet Gasoyan joined Temple University College of Public Health as a doctoral student, he was a practicing dentist. Though his doctoral research focuses on insurance benefit design and the benefits of bariatric surgery, he hasn’t left dental health behind.
Dr. Gasoyan recently documented the benefits of a program that delivers dental care to rural villages of his native Armenia. His analysis determined that the program, which helps elementary school children develop the habit of brushing their teeth regularly, reduced the incidence of cavities by 30 percent, making a significant impact on children whose homes often don’t have running water. The findings were published in Frontiers in Public Health in August.
“There’s abundant research that connects dental health to serious conditions, nutrition, and even performance in school,” said Dr. Gasoyan. “If you have a toothache, it’s harder to pay attention in class.”
The dental care program began in 2013, when pediatric dentist Dr. Denise Klatchoian brought the idea of school-based toothbrushing stations to Hand in Hand, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children in Armenia. Along with Dr. Robert Bagramian, an alumnus of the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple, they set up colorful toothbrushing rooms called “Brushadromes” adjacent to cafeterias in 14 schools in nine Armenian villages. Children ages 6 to 11 were given their own brushes and fluoride toothpaste and instructed on proper technique. After lunches, a nurse or teacher would lead them in brushing sessions designed to be effective and fun.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 13