Online training boosts oral health program

Wednesday, 17 July

A Territory-developed fluoride varnish program has gone online to make training more accessible to health care workers in the bush.

The training equips primary healthcare workers with the skills to assess the oral health of young children and apply protective fluoride varnish to teeth to fight dental decay.

Aboriginal Health Practitioners and Registered Nurses training in the Department of Health's 'Healthy Smiles' Oral Health and Fluoride Varnish program can now access an e-Learning package rather than coming in to Darwin for face-to-face sessions.

 "The Healthy Smiles program which includes a 'lift the lip' assessment of oral health and application of fluoride varnish has been incorporated in to the Healthy Under 5 Well Child Checks since 2009," Oral Health Promotion Manager, Alana Booth said.

"The new eLearning package consists of 5 online sessions followed by a half day practical session about the application of fluoride varnish." 

The introduction of the Healthy Smiles program followed the local research project conducted by Menzies School of Health Research, 'Strong Teeth for Little Kids'.

"This study was a randomised controlled trial and showed an approximate 30 per cent reduction in decay with fluoride varnish applied 6 monthly over a 30 month period," Ms Booth said.

"Fluoride varnish strengthens tooth enamel as well as areas of enamel that have begun to show signs of demineralisation and early decay."

The e-Learning package has been funded through a $60,000 grant from the National Rural Health Alliance as well as in-kind support from Colgate Oral Care.

Healthy Smiles - Oral Health & Fluoride Varnish Training Program provides background information and an understanding of:

�           Oral Health and Oral Disease

�           Introduction to the Social Determinants of Oral Health

�           Early Childhood Caries

�           Prevention and Management of Early Childhood Caries

�           Lift the Lip assessment

�           Referral Guidelines

�           Provision of Fluoride

�           Introduction to the application of Fluoride Varnish

"The Healthy Smiles, Oral Health and Fluoride Varnish Program is a fantastic example of local research translated in to practice," Ms Booth said.

"The creation of this online resource will further increase the accessibility of the program for staff working throughout the NT, in particular in the very remote locations." 

Media Contact: Bridget Wild 89 992 818 or 0401 116 203