Promoting oral health among children

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  Posted by: The Probe      3rd June 2021

During the most recent UK national lockdowns, the widespread closure of schools resulted in new challenges for parents/guardians. Life had to be adapted to facilitate home-schooling, supporting the education of young people while still working from home and contending with everything else going on.

Despite the best efforts of teachers, parents and guardians, education will still have been impacted. There is only so much that self-study and online learning can do, so the education of many children and young people will have suffered. And this is not just true regarding science or maths. School is about much more than this – it is a place for young people to develop independence, discover the world, encounter new cultures, socialise and learn how to look after their physical and mental health. A lot of these types of skills are acquired through interactions and hands-on experiences.

For example, many schools work with their local dental practices to present dental health sessions for children, teaching them the importance of oral hygiene, a balanced diet, hydration and so much more. These sessions usually involve a dental professional going into the school and running a session in the classroom. Kids have the opportunity to use models, play games, watch live demonstrations and ask their own questions. They often then go home with information for their parents/guardians to review as well, helping to educate the whole family on achieving and maintaining oral health from a young age. Given the on-going financial difficulties, social restrictions and lack of access to dental and health care faced by so many recently, this type of health support would have been missed all the more.

Aside from the educational aspects, these types of events are a great opportunity for dental practices to engage with their local communities as well. This connection is not only an effective way of supporting the community in improving their oral health, but it also promotes the practice and encourages more people to attend for routine dental care.

Finding new solutions

In light of all the challenges of the past year, many dental practices have found new ways of reaching out to patients and young people in their communities. For example, social media has become a convenient and accessible platform for education and engagement. It enables dental teams to spread reliable information and to remind patients of the importance of their oral hygiene.

Cedar Road Dental Practice in Northampton came up with another solution and replaced their school visits and oral health sessions with a new initiative. Practice manager, Stephen Lee, says:

“Due to Covid-19 we have been unable to provide our Oral Hygiene Instruction assemblies and Fluoride visits to primary schools around Northampton. So, with support from my Area Manager, I worked with the Clinical and Operations Teams to come up with a plan to ensure that we were still providing information and tools for children to maintain a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.

“The fun, informative video featuring Muhammed Jasat and ‘Buddy’ went down so well. We also provided care packages consisting of a toothbrush, toothpaste, crayons, colouring sheets and some information leaflets.”

Muhammad Jasat, Clinical Advisor at Rodericks Dental, comments:

“Prevention is a key focus for us. We aim to educate patients from a young age, preventing oral disease in their futures. It was clear that things were difficult for communities during the last lockdown and we wanted to make sure that children were staying on top of their oral hygiene.

“We created some fun, character-based videos using information from the Oral Health Foundation. They provided an engaging way to remind children of the important dental health messages while they were likely not in the classroom or visiting their dentists as often. These videos were really well-received, so we followed up with some care packages – approximately 2,000 were sent to 16 schools in the Northamptonshire area.”

Participating schools really appreciated the interaction, providing some fantastic feedback:

Earl Spencer Primary – “We are really grateful for these care packages. It will be a great Christmas present for the children. Communication have been amazing throughout the whole process.”

Rectory Farm Primary – “It is great to know that even with the current pandemic, there are still people/companies out there that are always thinking and caring about the welfare of our students. Stephen has been great, constantly communicating with us so we know what is going on and when to expect everything.”  

Supporting the next generation

The dental health of children in the UK has been a concerning topic for some time and the pandemic will have done little to improve the situation. Re-engaging with the community and providing the support that young people and their parents/guardians need is crucial. By working together, we can all help the next generation grow up with better oral and general health.


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