Outcomes of a co-designed, community-led oral health promotion program for Aboriginal children in rural and remote communities in New South Wales, Australia

Yvonne Dimitropoulos Alexander Holden Kylie Gwynne Loc Do Roy Byun Woosung Sohn

Outcomes of a co-designed, community-led oral health promotion program for Aboriginal children in rural and remote communities in New South Wales, Australia

Authors: Yvonne Dimitropoulos Alexander Holden Kylie Gwynne Loc Do Roy Byun Woosung Sohn
doi: 10.1922/CDH_00005Dimitropoulos06

Abstract

Objective: Improving the oral health of Aboriginal children is an Australian priority. Public policy recommends the development of evidence-based, culturally competent oral health promotion programs. Positive health outcomes are more likely for Aboriginal people when programs are co-designed with the community and tailored to local needs. This study aims to determine the impact of a community-led oral health promotion program for Aboriginal children in rural and remote communities. Basic research design: Consecutive surveys. Baseline data were collected on the oral health of Aboriginal children aged five-12 years in rural and remote communities in Central Northern New South Wales in 2014. Then, an evidence-based oral health promotion program was co-designed with local Aboriginal communities. It included daily toothbrushing, water bottle program, regular application of fluoride varnish, regular distribution of toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste and dental health education and commenced in 2016 in three schools in the region. In 2018, oral health status and oral hygiene behaviours of participating children were compared against baseline data to evaluate the program. Results: There was a significant reduction in tooth decay, plaque scores and gingivitis. The mean number of teeth affected by tooth decay was 4.13, compared to 5.31 in 2014. An increase was also seen in positive oral hygiene behaviour. Conclusions: The co-design elements of the program are critical to its success. Engaging local Aboriginal communities to co-design and deliver oral health promotion can reduce the burden of tooth decay experienced by Aboriginal children. Keywords: Child; Oral Health; Australia; Health Promotion

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