Prevention is better than cure.
This saying is so true in relation to dentistry. Giving a patient good oral health advice helps them to maintain a healthy mouth which is free from tooth decay and gum disease.
That’s why I feel it is extremely important to educate people in the importance of having a good oral hygiene regime, and I take pride in doing so.
As I said in a previous article, I love my job as a dental nurse. But every now and then, I take the opportunity to go a little out of my comfort zone and do something different – and this has meant going out into the community and promoting oral health. I have been to visit local schools and scout groups to educate the younger generations on how to maintain a healthy mouth.
To do this, I discuss tooth-brushing technique and diet, and I help the children use disclosing tablets to identify plaque and areas being missed when brushing.
I recently visited a local primary school after being asked by the school to promote oral health to their year one students (ages 5 and 6).
When delivering oral health advice, I used:
- A PowerPoint presentation that discussed how plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease if it is left on teeth. I also added pictures of different foods so that we could discuss diet and sugar intake. The children could look at the different foods and discuss whether they thought the foods (if not eaten in moderation) were good or bad for teeth.
- Large dental mouth models with giant toothbrushes so I could demonstrate good tooth-brushing technique and the children could then show me the new skills they had learnt.
- Disclosing tablets to help the children identify areas they were missing when brushing. (Consent for this was gained from parents/guardians before the oral health session.)
- Posters, leaflets, tooth-brushing charts and toothpaste samples (kindly given to me by our local Colgate rep).
Apart from a few technical problems (the computer) it was great fun – the kids were great!😃
The session went well and the children were keen to participate and learn new skills. They loved the mouth models and giant toothbrushes.
We played a game to see how long the children thought two minutes lasted (the length of time they should be brushing). The children had to stand up once they thought two minutes had gone, and nearly all the children had stood up before a minute had passed. So, I recommended listening to their favourite pop song whilst brushing to help them ensure they are brushing for the correct amount of time, or asking their mum or dad if they could get a tooth-brushing app which lets them know when they have brushed for the correct amount of time and often has a funky tune to brush along to.
To finish the session, I helped the children disclose their teeth, which showed them the areas they were missing when brushing. The children were then given the opportunity to brush their teeth whilst getting individual oral health advice to meet their needs.
Disclosing is a fun way to help the children identify areas they are missing, and I think they really enjoyed it. I’m pleased to say that the disclosing went well – with no stained uniforms or faces – and I think only one child swallowed most of a disclosing tablet although they promised they had chewed it.
As I have children at the school, I received loads of positive feedback from the other parents, including:
- Their child had insisted that they needed to clean their teeth for two minutes.
- Their child had mentioned the importance of brushing twice daily.
- One child had told her mum that eating too much sugar is bad for your teeth.
Receiving positive feedback makes it all worthwhile. So, I would recommend to all dental nurses going out in the community and educating people on the importance of good oral health – whether it be in schools, groups, nursing homes etc.
I feel it is important to set myself new challenges, and what better way to do so – helping others, teaching people new skills and giving them the tools to maintain a healthy mouth.
Author: Emma Edwards RDN, Dip Man., PTLLS, Cert OHE., Cert Sed., Cert Rad.