CDAA Position Statement – Oral health education programs for children & parents

Canadian Dental Assistants Association

POLICY STATEMENT

 Oral health education programs for children and parents

The Canadian Dental Assistants Association (CDAA) strongly supports the development of oral health educational programming targeted towards children, their parents, caregivers and public health service providers.

The CDAA supports the following:

  • Establishment of a baseline, national public health service delivery model for oral health education for children, their parents, caregivers, public health service providers and oral health practitioners.
  • Coordinated educational programs on oral health across educational curriculums, public health centers, community organizations, oral health practitioner organizations, health care providers, child advocacy organizations and all levels of government.
  • Development of a national public health communications campaign outlining the benefits of early and on-going oral health care specifically targeted towards children, their parents, caregivers, public health service providers and oral health practitioners.
  • Development of key, consistent and clear early childhood national oral health guidelines.
  • Development of key, consistent and clear messages supporting early childhood oral health guidelines.
  • Improving awareness and recognition of the pivotal role that oral health plays in overall general health and well-being.
  • Increasing collaboration between dental practitioners and all levels of government.

The CDAA recommends the following:

  • Delivery of oral health care educational programming in daycare centers, elementary and secondary schools.
  • Participation of oral health practitioners in a leadership capacity in all activities related to the development and delivery of oral health care public health programming through collaboration with governmental authorities, child advocacy groups, public health practitioners, schools and daycares.
  • Continued and more comprehensive oral health care training for public health care providers.
  • Delivery of public oral health care programming by oral health practitioners, whenever and wherever possible.
  • Continuation of research that evaluates the value, needs and efficacy of public oral health education programming.

 

Rationale:

Just as physicians advocate prevention to stave off illness, so too do oral health practitioners in the fight against the number one chronic disease facing Canadians: tooth decay. This position of taking a preventative approach to fighting dental caries is also echoed by the World Health Organization.3

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, building oral health policy from a place of prevention, rather than a reactive, treatment based approach, through measures such as fluoridation and school-based programs, can reduce the future occurrence of disease and socio-economic costs.2   Currently, it is estimated that Canadian children lose and estimated 2.26 million school-days a year due to dental visits or dental sick-days.1

As public oral health programming and delivery vary by province across Canada1, the CDAA sees a need for a baseline national program to ensure messaging is delivered consistently and accurately to all Canadian children, their parents and caregivers.  CDAA supports the collaboration amongst government, oral health industry partners, child advocacy groups, public health practitioners, educational institutions, and daycares to ensure consistent messaging is provided to children and their parents and to ensure information is relayed through a multi-pronged approach.

Bibliography

1.  Health Canada. (2010). Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009 – Oral Health Component. Ottawa: Government of Canada.

2. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (2011). Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is: The Future of Dental Care in Canada.

3.  World Health Organization. (2007). World Health Organization Global Policy for Improvement of Oral Health. World Health Assembly 2007. Geneva.