The Trust's Oral Health Promotion team has been selected as a finalist in the Best Community Initiatives category of the national Oral Health Awards 2019.
The nomination recognises their work on three of their innovations; Teeth Tools for Schools programme, Brushing Buddies and Health Promotion Campaigns: Tales with the Tooth Fairy and the Sugar Scientists.
The team has developed an educational resource package for local Primary Schools called Teeth Tools for Schools to support teaching staff who work with children from 3 to 11 years. The resource has activities designed to complement the national curriculum and activities can be delivered one to one, classroom based or even whole school approaches.
Every primary school in Bassetlaw and Nottinghamshire has at least one copy on site. In 2019 282/284 (99%) of schools in Nottinghamshire had pledged to use or had used the popular resource. An electronic version is now also available, free of charge, on the service’s dedicated website: www.nottinghamoralhealth.com
Brushing Buddies is the team’s local supervised toothbrushing programme. It covers 23 schools, over 3,000 two to seven-year-old children, and enables all children to be able to clean their teeth at school every day. Every school receives onsite training from the team to all staff and toothbrushing resources are provided free of charge, including resources to take home. Every school is also linked to a local dental practice for extra support and receives onsite motivational activities including parent workshops, assemblies, child engagement opportunities - all tailor made to suit the audience.
Engaging with the community is vital to share the current oral health trends, practices and information. The ‘Tales with the Tooth Fairy’ initiative takes the team across the County, talking to children at local primary schools, health centres and libraries to address the importance of looking after their teeth with four interactive storybooks and visual aids. The stories cover common themes such as being frightened of the dentist or why dentists wear gloves, which helped to break down some of the stigmas and fears associated with going to the dentist.
The team also came up with the idea of Sugar Scientists for older children and families to discuss oral health but also the importance of hidden sugars in drinks. Having the opportunity to try out elephant toothpaste, putting hands in hazardous materials (different types of sugar) and watching an exploding plaque broke down barriers, increased excitement and embraced the willingness to having a go.
Julia Wilkinson, Senior Health Promotion Specialist with the Oral Health Promotion team said: “Oral Health often carries a negative stigma and has to be overcome to enable children and adults to move on and embrace change. By working in partnership and engaging in the community it enthuses groups to laugh, learn and listen in a fun environment and in a non-threatening atmosphere. Talking about teeth does not have to be boring, it just needs to be inspiring. Watch out for Sweetie Swap Sessions for parents coming soon.”
The Oral Health Awards, organised by dental communications company FMC, formally recognises excellence in oral health promotion and care offered by dental teams and individuals throughout the UK and Ireland. The awards will be presented on 29 November in London.