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Dental Health Week still raising awareness of oral health

From left to right: Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Minister for Sport, with ADA President Dr Hugo Sachs. (Photograph: ADA/Facebook)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Mon. 28. August 2017


SYDNEY, Australia: In a follow-up to its Dental Health Week 2017 campaign, held from 7 to 13 August, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is reminding all Australians to make August their month to visit the dentist. Dental Tribune International spoke with Prof. David Manton, Chairman of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, about the message of Dental Health Week and why oral health is important for overall well-being.

How successful was Dental Health Week 2017 in raising awareness of the importance of dental health in Australia?
Dental Health Week was really well received and our media reach exceeded both 2015 and 2016. The campaign generated more than 299 placements, with a reach of over 24 million for Dental Health Week alone. We were able to reach a range of ages and demographics in metro and regional areas throughout the country via broadcast, online, print and social media platforms. Through this multifaceted and expansive activity, we were able to effectively raise awareness of the importance of oral health.

What were the main messages that this campaign communicated to the Australian public?
1. Make time to brush your teeth thoroughly twice daily, including 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night—don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth.
2. Limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks, and avoid snacking throughout the day.
3. Clean between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes daily.
4. Drink more water (especially tap water).
5. Prioritise your dental appointments—remember plenty of dentists have extended opening hours during the week and are open on the weekends.

What were some of the main ways in which the ADA communicated the theme of Dental Health Week 2017 (“Oral health for busy lives”)?
The campaign aimed to show Australians that being busy is not an excuse for poor oral health and that they can achieve good oral hygiene by incorporating easy routines into their everyday life. In addition to broadcast, print and online media, this year’s campaign had a strong focus on social media, especially Instagram. The campaign leveraged the social reach of the 2017 campaign ambassador, Libby Trickett, as well as a number of relevant influencers. Libby was also the consumer spokesperson, sharing her personal experience about how she manages her oral health. We worked with Libby to engage with the Australian community, as we had found that she resonates really well with the public.

It was possible to tailor the broad campaign theme to reach all Australians; for example, we used public transport advertising to target busy commuters. We also ensured that we communicated the theme to the dental community in the initial stages of the campaign so that they could plan oral health promotion initiatives and events. Requests for Dental Health Week resources were overwhelming, indicating that the campaign is growing each year. We created a range of resources to encourage dental professionals to get involved in Dental Health Week and promote key messages around the theme “Oral health for busy lives”. The Dental Health Week website offered a range of resources, such as fact sheets, posters, an event handbook and even bunting to decorate the practice.

What are the potential side-effects of neglecting one’s oral health? How can it affect one’s overall health?
The campaign highlighted that 68 per cent of Australians only visit the dentist for specific problems, rather than for regular check-ups and preventative reasons. This figure remains high despite more than 40 per cent of Australian children experiencing dental caries and 30 per cent of Australian adults having untreated caries.

Good oral health is an essential component of general health at all stages of life. Oral disease and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and Type 2 diabetes, share many common risk factors. A healthy mouth and a healthy body go hand in hand.

Looking ahead, has the ADA decided on a theme for Dental Health Week 2018? If not, when will this be chosen?
The ADA is looking at a new approach for 2018 and discussions have begun regarding next year’s theme. The ADA’s Oral Health Committee will meet in September to discuss a new approach—so watch this space.

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