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Waiting room time: An opportunity for parental oral health education

Randa Soussou, Jolanta Aleksejūnienė, Rosamund Harrison


OBJECTIVES: The UBC Children’s Dental Program (CDP) has provided free dental treatments to underserved low-income children, but its preventive component needs to be enhanced. The study aims were: 1) to develop a “waiting-room based” dental education program engaging caregivers of these children, and 2) to assess the program’s feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness.

METHODS: In preparation, a situational analysis (SA) included structured interviews with caregivers, and with various stakeholders (e.g., dental students, instructors, health authority) involved in the CDP program. Based on the SA, caregiver-centered education was designed using an interactive power point presentation; after the presentation, each caregiver set personalized goals for modifying his/her child’s dental behaviours. Evaluation of the program was done with follow-up telephone calls; the program’s effectiveness was assessed by comparing before/after proportions of caregivers brushing their child’s teeth, children brushing teeth in the morning and evening, children eating sugar-containing snacks, and children drinking sugar-containing drinks.

RESULTS: The program proved to be easy to implement (feasible) and the recruitment rate was 99% (acceptable). The follow-up rate was 81%. The SA identified that the caregivers’ knowledge about caries etiology and prevention was limited. All recruited caregivers completed the educational session and set goals for their family. The evaluation demonstrated an increase in caregiver-reported short-term diet and oral self-care behaviours of their children.

CONCLUSION: A dental education program engaging caregivers in the waiting room was a feasible, acceptable and promising strategy for improving short-term dental behaviours of children.


Dental education; children; parents; primary prevention

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