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From: Medicines and chemicals – Footsteps 2

Thinking again about our need for medicines and agricultural chemicals

By Alison Thornley.

Dental disease is a big problem in many countries today, but it does not require specialist knowledge to help prevent this problem. For community health workers, nurses, clinical officers and anyone else who is interested, the following will give a few tips on dental health education.

How do we communicate the dental health message?

  1. Keep it simple. There is no point in showing off your specialist knowledge. All this will do is confuse patients
  2. Don’t be afraid of repeating the message so that people will remember it.
  3. Make sure what you teach is relevant. Don’t show how to use a toothbrush if these are not available, or too expensive for villagers to buy. Instead use a chew stick.
  4. Try to use stories, plays or even puppet shows to make your talk seem lively and interesting. Don’t let your audience fall asleep!
  5. Allow time for people to ask questions.
  6. Make sure you set a good example with your diet.

What is the dental health message?

Teeth are important so that we can eat and enjoy our food and so that we look good too. For dental health we should:


Sugar and mouthgerms mean holes in the teeth

Use posters to show food and drinks which are bad for our teeth. Include sweets, cakes, biscuits and sodas.

These points are very important:


Mouthgerms and dirt left around teeth mean gum disease

All surfaces of the teeth should be cleaned.

Toothache and gum disease are painful and miserable. They can develop into very serious illnesses very quickly. Young children are at great risk. However these diseases can be prevented using these simple messages. So spread the dental health message:


Look after your teeth and help others do the same.

Alison Thornley worked in the Kisumu Dental Unit in West Kenya for two years. She now works in Coventry.

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