Background: Dental caries (tooth decay) is a problem for many young children, particularly those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The foundations for good oral health management are laid during a child’s early years, but this crucial period for promoting oral health is often overlooked.
Aim: To develop a community-based Oral Health Promotion (OHP) intervention encouraging toothbrushing for preschoolers in a disadvantaged (RAPID) Cork City area.
Methods: Consultation with key stakeholders identified preschools as the most appropriate setting for the intervention. Standards for toothbrushing in preschools in conjunction with a ‘Happy Teeth’ training programme for preschool staff were developed. A dental examination was offered to all children at baseline. Oral health packs were provided to support home brushing. Process evaluation was by pre-and post-implementation questionnaires.
Results: Four preschools (121 children, age range 2.1-5.0 years) participated in the intervention. 25% of children had decay. 82% of parents had never received oral health advice. After 6 months, all preschools wanted to continue the programme and parents reported an improvement in their child’s home toothbrushing.
Conclusion: OHP can be effectively integrated into a disadvantaged community setting, as earlier intervention and a multi-faceted approach are necessary to address the high levels of decay in this population.