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Dental care project in Waterford aims to reduce extractions

The goal of this project is to improve the dental health of young children and reduce the demand for dental extractions under general anaesthesia.

The aims are:

·         Educate public health nurse’s (PHN’s) on the causes and impact of tooth decay, including the common risk factors with other diseases

·         Update PHN’s knowledge on how to support parents in preventing dental decay and ensure optimum oral health of their young children

·         Provide PHN’s with training in the identification of children with dental decay

·         Provide a referral pathway for those who have been identified as having dental decay through the ‘lift the lip’ exam

·         Offer advice and preventive treatments to young children referred to the dental service by PHN’s.

The project offers an integrated service for users using a common risk factor and holistic approach to oral and general health. It recognises the importance oral health has on general health and attempts to engage parents at a key life stage to take up healthy behaviours to improve their children’s oral and general health. Nutritional support at an early age offers both benefits in terms of oral health but also in the reduction in childhood and adult obesity.

This project involves a multidisciplinary approach. The Public Health Nurse Department and Dental Services of Waterford have worked collaboratively on this project since 2016

In less than two years the PHNs have referred 315 pre-school children and these children have been seen by the Dental Service.

This early intervention initiative can produce lifelong benefit to clients and significant savings for the HSE. As such early intervention offers the potential to improve children's oral and general health, their quality of life and wellbeing and reduce the burden on the health services.

This is an additional service to pre-school children only in the Waterford Community Services area. Tooth decay is a major public health problem for children and it is the most common chronic disease of childhood.

An initiative from Waterford Community Services, South East Community Healthcare (CHO 5).