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Encouraging a parent friendly practice – Nigel Carter OBE


  Posted by: The Probe      13th July 2018

NEW research has shown that a large proportion of parents in the UK are often confused about what is best practice for their child’s oral health – potentially leading to many developing poor or incorrect oral health behaviour from a young age.

Issues highlighted by parents include; when they should take their child to visit the dentist, choosing the most suitable toothbrush and toothpaste, and lastly, how to teach them to be independent in looking after their own oral health.

One way in which dental professionals can help is by developing parent friendly practices. By creating a dental practice that supports the needs of parents, you can correct any misperceptions they may have while offering clear and effective advice on how they can inspire their children to care for their mouth.

Clear, simple and reinforced advice

Part of offering a parent friendly practice is to provide accurate advice in a simple and understandable way. Stick to plain English and don’t over-complicate messaging. The more detail and medical ‘jargon’ you include, the less likely children, and indeed parents, are to fully understand and digest it.

This is actually very simple to achieve. The use of well-written leaflets, posters and fact sheets with simple, engaging and attention-grabbing information, can reinforce what they will hear from the dentist.

The recently introduced Dental Check by One (DCby1) initiative, launched by BSPD in partnership with the Office of the Chief Dental Officer England, looks to address the key area of informing parents when to take children to the dentist for the first time.

The aim of the campaign is to increase the number of children who access dental care from a really young age in England by encouraging parents, through dental practices, to bring their children to get checked before they are one year old.

This is a very welcome and timely initiative which, with the right support, can improve this often-confusing area for parents. The message is simple, ‘take children to the dentist as early as possible’, and by repetition and reinforcing this nationally, can become part of the parent psyche.

By the time parents have their children in the practice, much of the hard work is done. This is the right place to be given correct information and advice about toothbrushes, twice daily brushing, diet and fluoride toothpastes.

On-going support and relationship

There are a range of activities which practices can implement once parents are in the practice, to help guide them on their children’s oral health behaviour.

Simple things, like providing dental goody bags containing two-minute timers, stickers and brushing charts, can be great ways of parents getting children involved in looking after their own oral health.

Implementing special practice-led protocols, for example introducing times reserved for children out-of-school hours, might make it easier for parents to keep and attend appointments. This could also make them feel more encouraged to visit and discuss specific needs of their children.

Maintaining an on-going dialogue is also vitally important and can forge a solid relationship between a dental practice and parents. This does not have to be heavily time-intensive. A monthly ‘newsletter’ highlighting any upcoming events and reinforcing what they have seen and learnt in the practice, is a great way to develop a parent friendly practice. You could also use this as an opportunity to communicate good oral health behaviours and incorporate dietary advice. Using interactive elements, such as quizzes, would also be highly effective in appealing directly to children themselves.

Helping hand

At the Oral Health Foundation, we are excited to announce the launch of our brand-new online shop which makes it easier for dental teams and oral health educators develop parent friendly practices.

We spend a great deal of time producing high quality information and oral hygiene products to support dental health professionals for their patients and local community.

Our new online shop features our entire catalogue of more than 500 products and is incredible easy-to-use. I urge anybody involved in promoting oral health to go online and take a look at the website below. n

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