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 fare far worse in terms of oral health than other Australian children. They have worse dental outcomes, often access dental care only when in pain and younger children are more likely to have a hospital admission for dental reasons as shown by our research.
Previously we carried out research about perceptions of oral health in the Aboriginal community. We conducted interviews and focus groups with health workers, parents/carers and teenagers to understand what was most important to them about oral health.
We found people often get dental care too late and then need a lot more work done rather than regular prevention focused check-ups. Community members of all agesconsistently told us that oral health for children was their priority. One of the key findings was the lack of information on promoting oral health and preventing disease for Aboriginal children and their families.
To thank the community for participating in the research, we wanted to give them health promotion materials to meet some of their needs in the spirit of reciprocity. So we laminated the student posters from UWA Dental School developed in their Public Health unit. These were really popular, but as we talked with the community members and Aboriginal colleagues they said something more culturally specific would be even better.
Our team at School of Dentistry, in consultation with the Aboriginal Health Team at South Metropolitan Health Service, have designed a set of four posters depicting key oral health messages for Aboriginal families.
We hope these posters and related resources 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. They will help Aboriginal parents and carers talk with their children about how to look after their teeth and gums. We plan to develop further resources such as a colouring-in books and stickers to further engage young Aboriginal children in the importance of oral health.
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 us disseminate oral health resources widely in the Aboriginal Community.
- $20,000 will help develop more resources.
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: