Good oral health can make a big difference to a child’s quality of life, improving their ability to eat and their self-esteem. Poor oral health is a major reason for preventable hospital admissions in children in Australia. Although it is often said that dental disease is preventable, it remains a major source of morbidity.
Aboriginal children fair far worse in terms of oral health than other Australian children. They are more likely to have a hospital admission for dental reasons and this is often at a younger age than other children. Aboriginal children have worse dental outcomes and often access dental care only when in pain.
Previously we carried out research about perceptions of oral health in the Aboriginal community to gain a greater understanding. We conducted interviews and focus groups with many health workers, parents/carers and teenagers.
We found people often get dental care too late and then need a lot more work done rather than regular prevention focused check-ups. The community, consisting of people of all ages, kept telling us that oral health for children was their priority. One of the key findings was the lack of information available on promoting oral health and preventing disease for Aboriginal children and their families.
Whilst we carried out the interviews, we wanted to give something back to the community in the spirit of reciprocity. So we laminated the student posters from School of Dentistry developed in their Public Health unit. These were really popular, but as we talked with the community members and Aboriginal colleagues they wanted something a little more culturally appropriate.
Our team at School of Dentistry UWA, in consultation with the Aboriginal Health Team at South Metro Metropolitan Health Service, have designed a set of four exciting, yet informative posters, each containing important messages about oral health in Aboriginal children.
We hope these posters will be used widely. They will assist dental colleagues in creating awareness and educating the community on the importance of dental hygiene and diet to combat dental disease.
Involvement with the community is essential to this project. We need your assistance to develop more of these resources and distribute them to the wider community, thus maximising their exposure:
- $10,000 will help print more of these and disseminate them in the Aboriginal Community.
- $20,000 will help develop more posters and a colouring-in book.
- $30,000 will help us investigate further options such as a Fairy Croc Father book featuring Gary Goanna and a website.
We acknowledge the fantastic assistance in designing these posters: Brian Kent at TrueBue Gallery, Ian Coate’s wonderful designs and Marlia Fatnowna who helped with ideas and liaison with the community.
Development of these posters and the previous research was supported by: