Oral health education workshops

OHE Diary CPDWhat are oral health workshops?

Oral health workshops are educational sessions that are held with the aim of promoting good oral health by improving people’s knowledge of how to maintain a healthy mouth.

These workshops can be held in the dental practice or can involve oral health educators going out into the local community and visiting workplaces, community groups, care homes and schools.

Who can hold oral health workshops?

Oral health workshops can be held by dental professionals who have a qualification in oral health education. So, the fantastic news is these workshops can be nurse-led. 

These workshops give nurses with post-registration qualifications the opportunity to use their training and skills to make a difference by educating people in oral health. 

Planning an oral health workshop

When planning an oral health workshop, preparation is the key to success. It is important to get background information on your target group. This information will allow you as an oral health educator to ensure you have selected the correct information, resources and visual aids to deliver your selected topic. 

It’s always a good idea to have aims and objectives. Having SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based) objectives will help to:

  • Recognise what went well.
  • Identify areas that could be improved.
  • Assist in constantly improving the quality of the workshops.

School oral health workshops

I recently visited my daughter’s school to hold an oral health workshop. The target group was thirty school children aged five to six.

As my daughter attends the school, I had prior knowledge of the venue. However, if you are planning an oral health workshop outside of your practice in a venue you haven’t visited before, it’s always good to visit the venue in advance. This will allow you to check:

  • Location/access.
  • Car parking.
  • The size of the room you will be using and the fixtures and fittings.
  • The lighting and availability of plug sockets.
  • Resources.

Aims and objectives 

My aims were to promote oral hygiene instruction and healthy eating to help the group maintain healthy mouths.

My objectives were for the children to be able to:

  • List the ways in which they can maintain a healthy mouth. 
  • Describe how tooth decay is caused.
  • List five healthy snacks that help to protect teeth.
  • Demonstrate a good tooth-brushing technique using a toothbrush on a tooth model.

To help me meet my objectives, I decided to create a PowerPoint presentation which involved pictures and games to play – this would keep the workshop fun and interactive. I also decided that tooth disclosing would be a fun activity with the children to help them identify any areas they were missing when brushing.

I contacted local oral hygiene representatives, who were more than happy to provide samples of toothpastes, demonstration models and tooth-brushing charts.

Once my presentation was complete, I practised and practised so that I felt confident delivering my presentation and so that the workshop would run smoothly. I also got advice from my daughter, who was more than happy to give me constructive feedback.

The day of the oral health workshop

The workshop went well! 😊 I used an interactive PowerPoint presentation that covered:

  • Why teeth are important – they help us to eat, speak and smile.
  • How tooth decay forms and the ways we can stop this.
  • How to clean our teeth using a small-headed medium toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • How to choose healthy snacks and reduce sugars in our foods.
  • Why regular visits to the dentist are importance.

During the presentation, I incorporated some fun games – such as guessing which foods were healthy for teeth and which foods were bad. This allowed the children to get involved in the activity. The games created a relaxed atmosphere and the children were all keen to ask questions.

Another game we played was guessing how long two minutes lasted (the length of time the children should be cleaning their teeth for, at night time and on one other occasion each day). All the children were asked to sit down and then to stand up when they believed two minutes had finished. It was amazing how many of the children had stood up before a minute!

After the PowerPoint presentation, the class was divided into two groups. Half the class did some colouring and word searches (all to do with keeping teeth healthy) and the other half had the opportunity to disclose their teeth and practise their tooth-brushing technique. The groups then swapped over.

Disclosing the children’s teeth was a valuable motivational tool to help the children identify areas they were missing when brushing. It also gave me the opportunity to watch how the children cleaned their teeth and give them individual advice on tooth-brushing technique.

After the session, I was able to give out oral health leaflets, tooth-brushing charts, and samples of children’s toothpaste to parents so that the children would feel motivated and inspired to continue their oral health journey. Giving leaflets and handouts are a great way to reinforce learning.

Evaluation of the workshop

The workshop went well, and my objectives were met. On reflection, I would have gone with a colleague. It would have been nice to have spent more time helping each child to perfect their tooth-brushing technique after disclosing, but as there were thirty children, this was not possible. 

Over the next few days I got some amazing feedback from the children and parents.

Different types of workshops

In this article, I have discussed school oral health workshops– but (as noted above) these workshops can be held anywhere. Examples include:

  • Nursing homes.
  • Workplaces/offices. 
  • Local community centres.
  • Within the dental practice.

Different oral health topics can be chosen to meet the specific needs of different target groups. Examples of topics include: tooth-brushing, healthy eating, denture care, care of orthodontic appliances, smoking cessation and alcohol advice. 

Why hold oral health workshops?

There are many benefits to holding oral health workshops, including:

  • They allow practices to reach out to the local community and make a difference.
  • They help to reduce inequalities in oral health by providing people with information on how to maintain a healthy mouth.
  • They help people to improve their oral health, and this will then help to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
  • The workshops are a positive advertising tool for the practice; they show that the practice is keen to support the local community.

My personal experience of holding these workshops

I have found that holding oral health workshops has given me a great sense of job satisfaction and has given me the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to help educate people in oral health and enable them to develop the lifelong skills needed to maintain a healthy mouth. I love the fact that I can work on my own initiative and be creative whilst also helping people. These sessions allow me and my practice to reach out to the local community and make a difference, so I would highly recommend them.

 

Written by Emma Edwards