Southern Miss celebrates Oral Health Day


Wellness Ambassadors from the Office of Health Promotion hosted a tabling event in recognition of World Oral Health Day 2017 March 20 The University of Southern Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Center. Monday’s event was the first in the nation to be registered with FDI, World Dental Federation.

The purpose of World Oral Health Day was to educate students, faculty and staff about the importance of oral health as a major aspect of overall wellness. As part of the tabling events, free toothbrushes, toothpastes and dental floss were distributed to students.

Public health graduate student and Wellness Ambassador Sudheer Koutha suggested that the event be hosted at USM and gained support from TRIAD AmeriCorps, the Miss. State Department of Health and the Office of Health Promotion.

The World Dental Federation, FDI named this year’s WOHD theme as “Live Mouth Smart.” World Oral Health Day has been celebrated globally on March 20 since 2013.

“Understanding good oral health practices and adopting them early in life, will help to maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensure you live a long life free from physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease,” said Edoardo Cavalle, WOHD Task Team Chair.

Koutha worked as a dentist in his home country of India and felt that it would be beneficial to the Southern
Miss community.

“Being a health professional, I feel it is my responsibility to work for the healthy lifestyles of the community where I live in,” he said.

A report by the Center for Disease Control says 44 percent of the adults in Mississippi did not visit a dentist in the past year.

“This shows the scarcity of awareness among the community about the importance of oral health,” Koutha said.

USM was one of two institutions to host WOHD celebrations in America.

Koutha notified Angela Filzen, oral health consultant from the Mississippi State Department of Health, about
the event being hosted at USM.

Filzen promoted and encouraged Koutha’s idea and surprised him and the Wellness Ambassadors with another tabling event headed by regional dental hygienist Carla Basset. Representatives from the state department of health along with Wellness Ambassadors educated students for four hours that day.

Koutha said more than 100 students benefited from the event.

“I feel it would be great if more programs of this kind were organized at USM,” Koutha said. “I am looking forward to April 7, World Health Day and May 31, World No Tobacco Day for promoting health among students. I sincerely thank Student Health Services, Mississippi State Department of Health and Department of Public Health, students and Wellness Ambassadors for making this event successful.”