Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is the most common chronic disease among young children globally despite it being a preventable condition. Almost half of Australian children aged 5 years’experience childhood caries, with rates highest among families from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. ECC can lead to pain, swelling and hospitalization among children and can also negatively impact their functioning in terms of learning, speech and growth development.
To address ECC, there has been a lot of emphasis internationally on involving child health professionals such as child and family health nurses (CFHNs) in this area as they are in optimal positions to provide screening and oral health education to parents, carers and children. In Australia this led to the launch of the Early Childhood Oral Health (ECOH) program in 2007 using a model of shared responsibility facilitated through the use of the NSW Personal Health Record.This program provided parents and health professionals with increased access to health information to enable early identification of the disease and referral of affected children to appropriate oral health treatment services. The evaluation of the ECOH program showed that parents, as a consequence, had increased access to oral health information and also that CFHNs were incorporating the screening and referral of children to dental services into their practice. Currently training is provided to CFHNs by ECOH co-coordinators through face-face workshops post registration. However, there is no comprehensive education being provided in this area to nursing students undertaking their child and family health training. This study aims to address this by developing, implementing and evaluation Australia’s first oral health module for postgraduate CFHNs students at Western Sydney University. Having this initial education will help equip graduating CFHN’s with the necessary knowledge and confidence to promote infant oral health and support the ECOH
Funding is gratefully acknowledged from:
• NSW Centre for Oral Health Strategy
• Dr Cathy Dixon – Western Sydney University, Ingham Institute
• Sharlene Vlahos – Western Sydney University
• Tanya Schinkewitsch – Western Sydney University
• Assoc Prof. Ajesh George – Western Sydney University, SWSLHD, University of Sydney, Ingham Institute