Clinical Director, Dr John Fleming has been involved with the practice for over 17 years, and shared with us how the practice team have been engaging with their patients to get them thinking about sugar and oral health as part of our ongoing campaign to cut sugar consumption.
How have your patients responded to what the practice is doing to raise awareness?
We have always been of the opinion that prevention is better than a cure, so an integral part of each examination is discussing diet and advising patients and parents of our younger patients of the dangers of frequent snacking on sugary foods and drinks and of the dangers of hidden sugars.
It is amazing how many parents are shocked to learn that fruit juice is bad for teeth as they have been led to believe it is an effective way of getting one of their 5-a-day, unaware of the terrible damage it can have on teeth, especially children’s teeth. We have found that informing parents and grandparents of this has led to an improvement in the diets of the children and this has also had beneficial effects on the oral health of our patients of all generations.
What have you done within practice to raise awareness of sugar consumption?
We involve the whole team and our hygienists often will see patients to discuss diet, tooth brushing technique and to apply fluoride varnish. Children at higher risk of tooth decay will be seen every three months. I have supported the DCPs in developing their skills and three are qualified Oral Health Promoters and one is about to qualify as an Oral Health Educator.
The rest of the DCPs are about to attend courses in fluoride application. I feel that this really promotes the prevention of tooth decay at our practice and all members of the team are playing a role in discussing the dangers of sugars and using preventative techniques.
How have you engaged children/patients in the subject?
We are about to host toothbrush training days in the school holidays, run by the Oral Health Educators and we are looking into providing diet and preventative advice to families of children with tooth decay. This will involve bringing brothers, sisters, mums, dads and grandparents to the session, so we can hopefully help the whole family.
Every year we go to the local school to talk to the 6-7 year olds in conjunction with their ‘healthy eating’ week. These sessions are really good fun and the children enjoy looking at the equipment we use and we play games such as guessing which foods have hidden sugars and we all have a turn at brushing teeth correctly on our giant tooth model. They really enjoy their goody bags that we provide which are filled with toothbrushes, toothpastes, hidden sugar charts, stickers and rewards charts and we have had feedback from parents saying that these sessions have really changed their children’s eating habits and it has had a positive effect on the whole family.
I am a Beaver Leader in our local Beaver group and we have a dentist week where we do experiments on coins in Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and milk. They love drilling the play dough teeth!
What benefits have you seen from your activities?
In our experience getting the children involved in a fun and engaging way, whether it is at the practice, at school or in local clubs, is the best way to educate them from a young age It also has a beneficial effect on the whole family.
We use Facebook and Twitter to inform patients of the dangers of sugar and our website has an Oral Health for Children page with videos demonstrating tooth brush techniques appropriate to the age of the child.
There is a Kids Kingdom page where children can play interactive games and read stories and facts about teeth. One of our dentists has made a video
demonstrating how many cubes of sugar are in common every day drinks and we have uploaded this to our website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
There are so many different ways to get the message across and hopefully we will see some positive changes over the next few years so we can help to reduce the damaging effects of a completely preventable disease.
BDA Good Practice
Look out for upcoming entries featuring other practices in ‘Our cut sugar campaign in practice’ blog series.
BDA Good Practice
is a framework for continuous improvement that helps you build seamless systems and develop a confident and professional dental team. For more information on working towards membership please visit BDA Good Practice
or call 020 7563 4598.
The BDA campaigns on sugar and the impact on children’s oral health, visit www.bda.org/sugar
for more information.