The Dental Health Foundation in collaboration with the Mid-West Primary Healthcare Network for Travellers (Limerick City, West Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary), launched a project to improve the oral health of 0-8 year olds in the Traveller Community, on 15th April 2015 in Limerick.
As part of the Project, training was delivered in four sessions by Mrs Margaret O'Malley, Oral Health Promoter, HSE West, to Community Health Workers during March and April 2015. Training was provided to increase their knowledge and understanding of good oral health and the importance of maintaining it from birth. All of the Community Health Workers successfully completed the course in Children's Oral Health (0-8 year olds) and were presented with a Certificate of Achievement on Wednesday 15th April 2015.
The Community Health Workers were equipped with the skills and confidence to deliver this information within their community, specifically to the parents of 0-8 year olds in the Traveller Community.
Five key messages were delivered to these parents:
- Clean your baby's gums and teeth from birth.
- The main causes of tooth decay is regularly eating or drinking sugary foods and drinks and not cleaning your gums and teeth properly.
- It's not the amount of sugar in food or drink that causes damage to your teeth, it's the number of times you have sugar.
- Help your child brush their teeth twice a day.
- Always keep dental appointments.
The messages aplay an important role in helping parents understand the causes of tooth decay and how to prevent it, the importance of diet in relation to oral health, of effective assisted tooth brushing twice a day (morning and night) and why it is important to keep dental appointments.
This was an inclusive approach to addressing risk factors and preventing oral diseases while empowering people to take action to protect and be responsible for their own oral health. The Dental Health Foundation, along with its partners were delighted to take such a positive step to improve the oral health of children in the Traveller Community in Ireland. Through cost effective initiatives like this, we can all make a real difference in promoting good oral health and well-being.
Evaluation was built into the project from the outset. Pre and post training questionnaires were completed by the Community Health Workers. Additionally, on the Community Health Workers first visit to parents they will ask some survey questions. Parents were asked the same questions at the end of the six month evaluation period. Following this initial six month period a focus group was held with the Community Health Workers to discuss feedback received from parents, the Community Health Workers experience in delivering the project and changes to knowledge, attitudes and behaviour within the Traveller Community.