Dundee student’s brother inspires her to raise awareness of dental needs of people with Down Syndrome

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A University of Dundee student, inspired by her brother, has created a website to bring awareness to inequalities in dental treatment for people with Down syndrome.

Rebekah Sadok (23) has used illustration, animation and 3D modelling to create the digital resource, which was designed and developed as part of the final project of her MSc Medical Art course. This is one of dozens of exhibits at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design Masters Showcase 2021, which launches on Friday.

Rebekah, who is from Oregon, USA, has always been passionate about supporting and providing better representation for the disabled community. Her brother, Jeremy (37), who has Down syndrome, has been the ultimate inspiration behind her Masters project, which looks to educate professionals and caregivers about dental treatment for those with the condition.

Rebekah wants to improve awareness of the dental issues experienced by people with Down Syndrome

Common dental abnormalities in those with Down syndrome include smaller sized teeth, a narrow palate and a tongue with deep fissures in it. Understanding these common dental abnormalities can promote guidance, prevention, and early intervention, promoting a higher quality of life.

The website features Rebekah’s digital illustrations and animations of the mouth and skull of people with Down syndrome, some of which her brother Jeremy modelled for, to provide better understanding of the condition.

Rebekah said, “I recently worked with a team from the Dental School and told them I was interested in working on a project relating to Down syndrome. They told me how disability literacy, specifically relating to Down syndrome, is neglected in most dental school curriculums and caregiver training. I saw this as a great opportunity to gain better insight into that.

Rebekah’s brother, Jeremy

“Growing up, my brother was referred to so many different dentists. A lot of dentists wouldn’t even see him. Many were uncomfortable and didn’t know how to directly treat him due to his disability.

“It was really difficult for my mum to find a dentist due to his condition, and so the goal of the resource is to make people aware that that is a little understood topic in the dental field and that it should be better represented. Hopefully this is the start of that representation.

“I really wanted to do something meaningful and something that hadn’t been done before. Individuals with Down syndrome can’t always make these resources themselves and need someone to represent them for a lot of things. A lot of times that’s overlooked.

“I want to use my medical arts skills to make an impact for this underrepresented community and inspire future changes by improving the quality of resources available.”

Rebekah’s brother lives with her family back in the US and although she is currently in Dundee and miles away, she holds their relationship close.

“We did everything together growing up. I always felt like it was like a normal brother-sister relationship until I got to school and realised that other people didn’t have a brother like my brother. We have such a special bond. I just love him.”

The Masters Showcase is a staple event that has attracted thousands of visitors over the years both in-person and online.

More than 60 students will be displaying transformative design and visually stunning art created on the MSc Animation & VFX, MFA Art & Humanities, MDes Comics & Graphic Novels, MSc Forensic Art & Facial Identification, MSc Medical Art, MDes (Res) Masters by Research, and MSc Product Design courses.

The live launch event will be streamed live online from 6pm on Friday 3 September.