by Claire Phelan
Issue addressed: Basic oral health knowledge and skills are essential for parents and child health professionals to promote good oral health and the prevention of dental disease in young children. The aim of the Blue Book Program was to provide accurate and appropriate oral health information to all parents of newborn babies and young children in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, and child health professionals to address the serious issue of early childhood caries (ECC) and to increase general health involvement in oral health promotion.
Methods: Oral health information sheets were developed based on a review of current literature plus input from paediatric dental specialists. Information was pre-tested with child and family health nurses and their clients. Two hundred and forty child health professionals, predominately child and family health nurses, attended in-service education in early childhood oral health in 2004. Following this, a trial run of 40,000 oral health information sheets were printed and distributed to participating nurses.
Results: The NSW Department of Health approved the request for inclusion of oral health information in the Blue Book for the 2006 print run. A precondition for re-inclusion was the development of oral health guidelines for child health professionals. The Centre for Oral Health Strategy NSW has begun work on these guidelines and has incorporated this strategy into a new and comprehensive plan for a statewide Early Childhood Oral Health Program.
Conclusion: The methods used in this program support a collaborative partnership approach between oral health professionals, health promotion experts, child and family health nurses and NSW regulatory bodies. This approach is essential to address the serious issue of early childhood caries.
Key words: Early childhood caries, child health professionals, access, prevention, oral health, collaborative partnership.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2006;17:109-13