Dental Health Week…and Beyond

August 2, 2022

This article first appeared in the ADA Newsletter, August 2022

Every year August heralds the return of Dental Health Week (DHW). It is increasingly a misnomer as the event provides the impetus for many organizations and associations across Australia to step up their efforts with the common goal of improving oral health and education. in our country. These accompanying initiatives create an inspiring backdrop of activity throughout August and beyond.

This year, it appears that an easing of pandemic conditions that have affected the community reach of events over the past two years is contributing to an air of unmistakable optimism. Even this year’s DHW theme has a playful bent, its Valentine’s Day feel created by ADA member Dr. Elice Chen following a design contest that spawned delicious and truly unique.

“The main message this year is Love Your Teeth and focuses on prevention,” says ADA Oral Health Advocate Dr. Mikaela Chinotti. “Australians are urged to show their love of their teeth by adopting good oral hygiene habits, including brushing, interdental care and low-sugar diets, as well as visiting the dentist regularly. L “The campaign artwork was very well received. It was great to give ADA members the opportunity to participate in the design of this year’s campaign.”

Hundreds of members have already geared up for the DHW festivities by pre-uploading promotional and educational materials from the dedicated web portal, or even pre-ordering the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Education Kits – but there’s a lot more going on.

“New for 2022, we are asking dental practitioners to help us raise funds for the Australian Dental Health Foundation (adhf.org.au). The Foundation works to facilitate pro bono care for underprivileged Australians and all funds raised will go a long way in helping those who might not otherwise be able to access care,” says Dr. Chinotti, adding that while the ADA is running its own online advertising campaign, the participation of dental practitioners across the country is essential help increase the reach of Dental Health Week.

Apart from major DHW festivities and efforts, the boost brought to the profession and associated industries is also having an admirable effect in terms of advocacy, legislation and promotional power. Here we look at some initiatives that are currently in play, which will have a positive impact on the oral health of Australians for years to come.

A New Consensus Statement on Promoting Oral Health

Even against the overwhelming backdrop of the advent of COVID-19 in 2020, the ADA Consensus Statement on Ankyloglossia and Oral Frenulums quickly gained attention and traction across our profession. Similarly, the first Consensus Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Oral Care, launched in April this year by the FDI World Dental Federation, was widely seen as an important and positive step for the international dental community.

Consensus statements are meaningful and influential because they create and confirm common goals,

with the power of research and collaboration concentrated behind them. To have a new consensus statement in the works, on such an important and salient topic for the DHW as the promotion of oral health, is therefore newsworthy.

The ADA-led project, with the University of Melbourne as a research partner, is essential on several levels. Dr Mihiri Silva, Consultant Pediatric Dentist and Clinician Scientist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, and Division Head of Cariology, Population Health and Oral Health at Melbourne Dental School, University of Melbourne, is also vice chair of the ADA Oral Health Committee and an instrumental figure in the formation of this draft consensus statement.

“I’m very excited that this project offers the opportunity to develop a collaborative statement that is evidence-based, inclusive and engaging,” she says. “This statement will allow us to use the evidence that

has emerged since the last statement, and it’s really exciting to be involved in such translation work, to bridge the gap between knowledge generation and knowledge implementation. I am also excited to work with colleagues, consumers and stakeholders across the country and develop this forward-looking statement together.

Dr. Silva’s own work within the pediatric space has informed his work on the statement by ensuring that

all aspects of dental care, including oral health promotion, are supported by solid scientific evidence.

“My research program focuses on using longitudinal cohorts to understand children’s oral health and implementing evidence-based strategies to improve children’s oral health,” she says. . “My work has focused on early childhood

influences such as sugar consumption, early dental visits and early childhood caries and enamel hypomineralization. From my own work and that of many others, it’s clear that public health policy is really important in ensuring that children have the best start in life.

“This declaration is really important to guide policy and practice, and I truly believe it will accomplish a lot. We know of course that there is still a lot of work to be done. New challenges and opportunities are emerging and it is important that we continue to be innovative and work to improve the oral health of the community, especially through advocacy.

“Oral health promotion is a complex field, and I would like to see a more integrated evidence-based approach to oral health promotion at every stage, from design to evaluation,” says Dr Silva. “For example, it’s great to see more and more oral health promotion activities that consider concepts like behavior change theory that have been widely used in other areas of health. We know that providing knowledge is not enough; we need to think more holistically about how to support behavior change. We need to recognize the importance of ensuring high-level health policy and strategies that help individuals adopt healthy behaviors, because the environment around us is so important, as does ensuring that we include consumers and our patients as equal partners in promoting oral health.

Read Dental Health Week…and Beyond (Part 2)

/ADA public version. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors.View Full here.