Dental Checkmate: Strategies for Proactive Family Oral Health

We know that good oral and overall health is connected, so it’s important to see your dentist regularly and eat a balanced diet. But did you also know that certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can impact your oral health, causing issues like swollen gums, mouth ulcers, halitosis (bad breath), and even tooth loss? Having a proactive family dentist can help you reduce these risks.

Behavioral interventions have been identified as the most effective family-level strategy for changing oral health behaviors. Most of the interventions reported in this review focused on a combination of motivational interviewing and health education, with the addition of community partnerships and direct delivery of health-related messages. Interventions were implemented in a variety of settings and targeted children, caregivers and parents.

Most of the strategies described in this review incorporated elements of the WHO’s Health for All paradigm, which promotes a shift in practices from disease treatment to health promotion and prevention. Two of the most common strategies focused on reorienting primary care services toward prevention, with specific actions including service coordination; providing one-to-one, preventive, oral health promotion and education for individuals, families and communities; and providing supervised toothbrushing, fluoride varnish, and staff training.

The authors conducted interviews with a variety of early intervention agencies that serve young CSHCN in Washington State to learn about their approaches and identify barriers and facilitators to implementation of the strategies described in this report. Interviews were semi-structured and conducted over the telephone, and were recorded and transcribed. The final report is based on the content of these interviews.

Oral disease is a major public health challenge in the United States and around the world. It disproportionately affects populations in lower socioeconomic status, which increases the likelihood of poor dental health outcomes due to factors such as low caregiver health literacy and language proficiency, limited access to affordable dental care, and geographic barriers. Additionally, many of the risk factors for oral disease—such as poverty, inadequate nutrition, tobacco/chewing/smoking, and chronic diseases—also have significant impacts on other aspects of family health, such as blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. This makes it even more important to address the social determinants of health and create a healthcare system that puts family oral health at its center. In the United States, this means developing a model of health care that is integrated and responsive to individual needs. To learn more about how you can get the best dentist Northbrook, IL for your family, visit Smart Dental today.