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Connect Health & Community is monitoring the oral health of a group of local children over a four-year period with the expectation it will deliver a leap forward in the oral health outlook for children of this generation.
The longitudinal study hopes to determine that education and timely treatment can eliminate tooth decay and improve the oral health of pre-school aged children over a lifetime.
Connect Health & Community CEO, Amanda Murphy, said the project seeks to educate a cross-section of the community, including children, early learning educators, children’s families and their networks, as well as provide regular dental treatment to deliver a generational change to oral health.
Despite delays caused by the pandemic, all children are now engaged in the study that aims to both gain insights and change behaviours, in a way that will pave a healthy road forward for children across the state.
Ms Murphy said the study is taking place with 180 children from six different kindergartens in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, with treatment and education sessions held every six months over four years.
“The program will monitor the dental health of the control group as our dentists work with them, their teachers and their families to impart the latest knowledge and techniques to deliver the best possible oral health for students,” she said.
“While early days, we are making good progress and gaining insights that make us confident we can help reduce decay, one of the leading preventable diseases in the world,” she said.
Once data is gathered and analysed, Ms Murphy said the knowledge would be used broadly within the state’s dental health system.
“This exciting project aims to create a blueprint for how we can best educate our children in top oral health practices across Victoria and give them the skills that will help them enjoy healthy smiles for life – literally,” she said.
Ms Murphy said screening for the project found many pre-school aged children experienced decay and education activities would focus on the need to ‘drink well, eat well and clean well’.
“By teaching our children and their parents, we can hopefully create a new generational understanding of the best ways to promote and sustain good oral health,” she said.
She added, “This ground-breaking move to educate a generation of children will have broad-reaching impacts on them and our broader community. When you think about the advances that have been made in understanding dental health in recent years compared to say 20, 30 or 40 years ago, our ability to make a real long-term improvement is great.”
“Science shows that eating well, cleaning well and drinking well, can provide the best-possible outcome for strong, healthy teeth throughout life. By embedding that knowledge and skills at an early age, we have a chance to make a real difference to what oral health outcomes might otherwise have been,” she said.
“It would be wonderful to think this project can help take society one step closer to eliminating tooth decay, and the many associated poor-health factors associated with it. For now, we will focus on educating the children and collecting the data, knowing this action alone will make a many young people smile for life,” she said.
To find more out about Connect Health & Community's dental services, call us on 03) 9575 5333.
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