Getting children to care about oral health
With the current state of oral health among children in the UK, it is has never been more important to help young people learn good habits. Part of this is about engaging with children and involving them in their dental care. They need to understand why it’s important and what they can do to help. They therefore need the right information communicated in a way they can relate to.
Leading by example
Wotton-Under-Edge Dental Practice organise a Children’s Day twice a year. Practice manager, Alison Chomette, is clearly very passionate about these events and engaging with young people in the community. She says:
“We have been organising these days for about 10 years now. We stick to February and October school half-terms, as fewer families seem to go away. We allocate time at the beginning and end of the day for adult emergencies, but otherwise, we focus on children.”
Fun and games
“We always decorate the practice and the whole team dresses up. A fun theme like Disney, under the sea, pyjama party or Halloween helps to grab the kids’ attention. We also encourage them to dress up when they visit. It’s all about making them feel comfortable in the dental environment, whilst ensuring high clinical standards are maintained.
“During the day, the hygiene nurses, oral health educators and our FD run games and demonstrations with the children and parents in the waiting room. These might focus on good and bad food, sugar swaps or tooth brushing advice using models. Sometimes even the parents are surprised about how much sugar is in ‘healthy’ snacks like raisins. All the children leave with a goody bag containing a word search or puzzle, colouring sheets, pencil and sticker. The local Tesco also kindly donates a piece of fruit per child.”
Educating children and parents
“As such, we can educate young people and help their parents establish good habits at the same time. It also enables us to show parents who maybe haven’t visited the dentist in 20 years due to a bad past experience, to see that dentistry has moved on. The practice isn’t the same clinical and strict place it once was. We hope to break the cycle for these families. If children realise the practice is not a scary place, they are more likely to grow up without misconceptions passed on from parents.”
Getting the word out
So, how does Alison go about marketing the Children’s Day to patients and the wider community?
“We advertise the dates in the practice and on social media,” she explains. “We also have photos of our Children’s Days around the practice to remind everyone about them all year round. The days are booked well ahead of time so the dentists can book their schedules. In total, we usually see between 150 and 200 children in a day. To be as helpful as possible, we will provide family appointments to see parents and kids at the same time where requested.”
A team effort
To make these events such a huge success, it is a real team effort for Wotton-Under-Edge Dental Practice. Alison adds:
“We always try to arrange different themes and entertainment to keep the days fresh for those who return each time. We have a very inventive team so their creativity really helps with organising fantastic days. They are exhausting but well worth the effort!”
Whether you’re doing something for National Tooth Fairy Day on 28th February, or any other time of year, it’s important to engage with children to improve oral health in the next generation. These events are also brilliant opportunities to interact with the local community and get more people involved in their dental health.