The Dental Care Centre has been providing private and NHS care to the residents of Folkestone and surrounding areas for almost 30 years. When Principal, George Au took over an existing family practice, his vision was to live in, be a part of and contribute to the local community. The team is made up of 20 members of staff, all of who welcome new ideas and advancements in technology thus ensuring they are not only compliant but achieve over and above what is expected. The practice has been members of BDA Good Practice for 14 years.
Clare Nicholson, Practice Manager, 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
What have you done within practice to raise awareness of sugar?
As a practice we passionately believe in improving and maintaining oral health. Over the years we have increased the amount of information given to patients so they are able to make more informed choices about lifestyle, diet and active home prevention.
Getting the message across to our patients through multiple mediums is our practice goal. Social media is growing in popularity and so we are thinking more about how we can use Twitter to engage our patients.
The team carries out a range of activities to target and interact with our patient base. We have Dental Nurses who have attained an additional qualification in Oral Health Education. The Oral Health Advisors have the ability to spend time with our patients to discuss the implications of sugar on their teeth and general health. This is a great asset to parents who need additional support in educating their children.
We have created various displays in our waiting rooms to raise awareness of sugar and one of the Oral Hygiene Nurses has made a great food game which is very hands on and interactive for young children.
The team also visits schools and nurseries to educate young children on the ‘naughty sticky bacteria’ caused by sugars. This gives us the opportunity to wear fun costumes that the kids absolutely love and engage with. We give away free goody bags with a toothbrush, stickers, brushing charts, bottled water and advice for parents to reinforce our message.
How have your patients responded to what the practice is doing to raise awareness?
The schools and nurseries have given us great feedback and it puts smiles on our faces when the children’s “thank you” drawings and cards arrive on our doorstep.
It’s amazing that many patients may think certain foods or drinks are healthy, such as fruit smoothies, when really they can be full of hidden sugars that are being consumed several times throughout the day.
Over the years, our sugary drinks displays have been the most successful way to get the message across. Not only for children but adults who just do not realise how much hidden sugar can be in some drinks.
Our dentists’ advice, along with all the other ways the team reinforces our messages, has resulted in an improvement in some patients’ oral health – down to the change in their diets and adopting a good oral hygiene routine.
How receptive have the patients been to the information?
Patients have warmly welcomed what we are trying to do. The younger patients love the games and interactive displays that we have. Some of the teenagers have made life-changing alterations in the way they care for themselves at home and this is a direct result of being willing to take on-board the messages from our Oral Hygiene Nurses.
Teenagers don’t always tend to listen to their parent’s advice. A lot of grandparents now carry out the role of child-minding. They have really appreciated the conversations they have had with our reception team and the thread of these conversations have often flowed through into their dental appointment with the dentist.
The prominence of recent “too much sugar” awareness messages in the public domain have now made it much easier to engage with patients as it is not just about rotten teeth – but people’s overall health. We are finding that some patients can be more willing to take on-board advice. The proof is in the ‘sugar free’ pudding!
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.