October 12, 2020
by Dr. Abhishek Agarwal
Dental education is lacking in society to the point that only 74.1% of adults are estimated to visit the dentist as often as they should. Frequent dental checkups and diligent oral care are essential for healthy living. Dentists need to raise awareness in society to promote action in those who are not taking dental hygiene seriously.
Oral Health in Children
A particularly concerning finding is that 23.6% of children in Canada are experiencing tooth decay. Baby teeth are necessary for a child to chew and speak, but also save space for permanent teeth. Because the enamel on baby teeth is thin, cavities can spread much quicker and an infection can develop, causing damage to the permanent tooth underneath.
Initiatives to create awareness around dental care for children is critical because the care their teeth receive in the early years can determine the health of their adult teeth. Unfortunately, the level of income a family receives directly correlates to tooth decay levels in children across Canada, despite the Health Canada subsidising numerous dental programs for children and low-income communities.
The Public Health Agency of Canada offers several online resources on public oral health and preventative care that increases the confidence of dental professionals in providing services that prevent oral health problems in children.
As a dental practice in Greenwich, there is a responsibility to increase the amount of information that is available to parents about adequately caring for the teeth of their young kids. Resources on how to communicate information in a way that will affect change in patients are available online.
Dentists can increase the probability of preventative maintenance visits by offering affordable payment plans to encourage parents to bring their children in for regular visits and cleanings.
The Responsibility of Dental Education in Schools
School is where children spend most of their time, and it’s also where they are prepared to learn and absorb new information. While many Canadian schools offer dental education programs, there is still a lot more that can be done to improve the oral health of the nation.
However, research shows that 2.26 million collective school days are missed each year due to necessary dental procedures in Canada.
Missing school due to dental procedures doesn’t need to be a common problem. Dentists can offer comprehensive presentations on correct brushing techniques, flossing and other oral hygiene issues. For low-income families, dental professionals could partner with companies that manufacture oral hygiene products to provide students with complementary dental hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss.
How Dentists Can Take Action
Dentists can help combat tooth decay in children across Canada by taking their dental care beyond the practice. When dentists collaborate with educators, that is when students receive the information and resources they need to take care of their teeth properly.
Improvements in adult dental health also occur through educating people at a young age on the dangers of inadequate oral care.
If the Public Health Agency of Canada and dental professionals work with school boards across Canada to bring worksheets, PowerPoint presentations and demonstrations on correct brushing and flossing techniques into classrooms for young kids, the strain on the government can be avoided in the future.
Using Social Media for Education
Young people receive the majority of their news and information from social media. Instagram, Twitter and TikTok are among the most popular applications for kids in their early to late teens, and the content they consume online can influence their behaviours and habits.
Creative marketing campaigns about dental health care are likely to be the most effective way to reach young people and keep them engaged. As a dental professional who is passionate about oral health, this could be the time to invest in a marketing plan for your dental practice and bring team members on board who are familiar with these platforms and the popular content.
Humour and creative storytelling are instrumental in gaining popularity on TikTok through a short video clip. In contrast, Instagram posts are most effective when an appealing photo and attention-grabbing caption are paired with a call to action.
Twitter is an easy and efficient way to keep followers updated on programs, promotions and events going on at your dental practice, or to share articles you might find relevant to your practice that could educate your patients.
Developing an online presence also starts with an accessible, user-friendly website. Make sure your services are easy to find and read, along with a contact form that makes it simple for new patients to book a consultation. Link all your social media accounts to the website and create a cohesive look for your brand that is maintained across all platforms.
Reaching a Wider Audience
Marketing is more important today than ever before, and marketing with social media can help you reach a more diverse client base. Millennials, who are now between the ages of roughly 24-39, are prime consumers of online content.
Seventy-two percent of Millenials report making a purchase of a fashion or beauty product based on an Instagram post. This number demonstrates the level of influence a product or service post online can have when the algorithms are targeting the right people.
By creating marketing campaigns across multiple platforms for various demographics, dental professionals can successfully educate a broad group of people. The potential for mass education on dental care is significant thanks to the power of online ads and marketing.
Dentists have a responsibility to step in and assist with the education of school-age children about the importance of an excellent dental hygiene routine. If you are a dental professional who can provide resources to schools for education, contact your local school board or the Public Health Agency of Canada for more information on how you can help.
Educating youth today will lead to better dental care in the future.
About the Author
Dr. Abhishek Agarwal qualified as a dentist in 2006 having a special interest in oral surgery, conscious sedation, and dental implants. He is also a member of the Association of Dental Implantology (ADI) and the British Dental Association (BDA).