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Community Projects
Community Projects
Community Projects

Community Health

Oral health care services provided by dental hygienists in the community environment can help develop improved health outcomes for families, the aged and special needs patients. In addition to providing a significant source of education, treatment provision and the ongoing support of health messages, community health programs can reflect the goals of government and other health care advocates.

Inspiration from Portugal!

Across the world, dental hygienists do wonderful and inspiring activities to encourage patients or the community to take care of their oral health. Often, these activities are not well recognised in other countries and this report is an opportunity to share inspiration with the dental hygienist professional community.

LtoR Marjolijn Hovius, Mario Rui Araujo and his wife Angelina.

LtoR Marjolijn Hovius, Mario Rui Araujo and his wife Angelina.

Portugal is a small country with around 500 working dental hygienists. These dental hygienists are very active in dental public health that is focused on children and young adults. We all know the challenges in persuading a child to brush long enough; so a teacher at ISAVE University proposed to make a song about tooth brushing which the parent could play when brushing their child's teeth. The song became a "dental" CD (sponsored by the ISAVE University) with over 10,000 sold in the first release. Recently the second CD was produced with over 30,000 copies sold and still going strong. This music certainly swings and one of 23 songs is a wonderful song about the dental hygienist (higienista oral in Portuguese) as being the best person to brush your teeth. As far as I know this is unique. You can hear this song on You Tube. Enjoy!

The Portuguese National Health Oral Health Promotion Program has adopted a comprehensive strategy of intervention based on health promotion, prevention and treatment of oral diseases with consideration to the full life cycle from birth to death. In particular the focus is on those environments where children and young people live and study.

É Sempre A Sorrir

In the last six years strategies were developed for plans based on secondary prevention as a key priority for the Portuguese government to meet the high demand for dental treatment. In this program, more than 340,000 children were treated when they redeemed a dental care voucher with their dentist. In 2010 the Chief Dental officer supported the development of an Oral Health Kit. Dental hygienists made sure that this kit was distributed in schools to caregivers of 7,10 and 13-year old children as a way to improve oral hygiene at home and in schools. In 2011, the 5 year old children will also received the kit, but only if their kindergarten has a Tooth Brushing Program.

É Sempre A Sorrir

Implementing oral health promotion activities is not always easy. In Portugal, the General Directorate of Health has taken the initiative to encourage discussions to open the door for alternative strategies in health promotion with new evaluation indicators to complement and encourage the work of all professionals involved in oral health. Thus Plan B was developed under the direction of Dr. Rui Calado, Portuguese Chief Dental Officer and Coordinator of the Oral Health National Program. The key team member responsible for the document development was the dental hygienist Mario Rui Araujo. Collective learning, creative interaction and open communication are factors that are a part of Plan B as are suggestions aimed at overcoming operational obstacles and practical proposals when difficulties are encountered. It is an open document to hopefully stimulate those who work daily in the community and in the future provide a tool to share good experiences.

In each area a series of evaluation indicators are suggested in order to identify potential health gains and to evaluate the impact of the different projects. In addition, examples of interventions are given, books and games are suggested, websites identified. Everything is done to stimulate new ideas such as new ways to communicate with families and the community, suggestions for group dynamics and activities always using the most up-to-date scientific knowledge.

Two significant activities have been agreed during the creation of Plan B, one of which involves the Schools Libraries Network. In Europe, National Reading Week is created every year to promote reading. A central theme is chosen but with two streams - one for adults and one for children. Next year the theme for the children in Portugal will be Oral Health. I can not tell you how important this opportunity will become for it involves all libraries in Portugal, bookstores and schools. There will be a national contest of short stories under the theme "What if my mouth was my home?" and local initiatives will promote oral health. I am sure this project will focus on reading and thus on health and specifically oral care. The organizers hope that projects will develop because of this theme to help ensure continuity as there are more than 25 books for children written in Portuguese about teeth and going to the dentist.

Another project that has been accepted for development is a theme park about oral health. It will be called "O mundo do sempre a sorrir" or as I translated it into English "The land where you always smile" or "The always smiling land". The games, the labyrinths, the scary house etc. all will focus on oral health. The theme park will stand for 3 months in one area and travel all over Portugal in three years. The costs will be around 7 million euros funded by private investors. Many contacts have already been acquired in a month, and some of them are interested in being partners of this great oral health promotion adventure. Can you imagine the excitement when the doors open for the first time? I will make sure not to miss this experience - a theme park just about oral health!!

There are many dental hygienists working all over the country, and the Portuguese Directorate of Health team consists of dental hygienists (Mario Rui Araujo and Cristina Cádima), a dentist (Ana Margarida do Céu) a master in management (Margarida Jordão) a public health doctor and program coordinator (Rui Calado) all collaborating under the supervision of vice director of the Directorate Catarina Sena (hospital manager). This inter-disciplinary team are proving that oral health promotion is based on networking, sharing knowledge, a good diagnosis of the situation of a country, creativity and imagination.

May you be inspired, as I was when I heard about these wonderful initiatives!

Marjolijn Hovius
Immediate Past President IFDH
m.hovius@quicknet.nl

Data Collection Templates

The following data collection templates provide dental hygienists with an option to capture the key information associated with providing health care in the Community Health environment.

 

The following data collection templates provide dental hygienists with an option to capture the key information associated with providing health care in the Community Health environment.'