As well as giving you dental advice, education and treatment in a dental practice setting, many health professionals also enjoy taking their skills and knowledge out into local communities.
Oral health promotional teams, educators and other dental professionals often take time to provide services outside of the dental practice, giving something back to nearby residents.
Places which your local dental team would be most likely to deliver oral health education include:
- Public places like town centres and shopping malls.
- Community centres and homeless shelters.
- Residential and care homes.
If you work in a school, are part of a HR team, a carer in a residential home, or anywhere where you think a large group of people may benefit from a visit from a local oral health promotion team, then reach out to them. You might be pleasantly surprised how willing are they to help you.
There are also many community dental clinics where you can access care. These as we are mostly ‘referral’ dental services, providing specialist care and expertise through a surgery or mobile clinic.
Below, are some of the most popular and effective events and activities they could potentially help you with:
- Campaigns: Initiatives like National Smile Month and Dental Buddy are both highly influential in communicating positive oral health messages in a fun and engaging way. Both of these programmes focus on interactivity and personal involvement.
- Demonstrations: Tooth brushing demonstrations are a great way to draw attention and educate any number of groups, large or small. They are fun, encourage a question and answer environment and the practical nature of learning allows for greater acceptance of the messages being taught.
- Mouth cancer awareness: With smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diets and sexual activity as the leading causes, it is increasingly necessary to learn more about mouth cancer. Education about the early warning signs and what to look out for, how to conduct self-check, and where to go if you find anything suspicious, could help your group become more Mouthaware.
- Oral health checks: This one is a little more complex as it will require your dental team to provide certain materials that create a safe and hygienic environment for your group. Despite this, we have seen many examples of dental teams giving groups oral health checks. These can help spot dental problems early on and prevent them from developing into something more serious – which could be especially useful if you do not think your group visits the dentist regularly.
- Diet and sugar: Education around the importance of a healthy diet and the impact that sugar plays on oral health can help reduce incidences of dental decay. You could ask a local dental team to do a presentation or active sessions about what foods and drinks to avoid while promoting healthier low-in sugar or sugar free alternatives.
Any of these ideas could be applied to a variety of audiences. The importance of oral health education in the community should not be downplayed and can have a very positive impact on dental health of the population.