A Victorian-first study aimed at reducing the number of dental hospitalizations for vulnerable children has won the Oral Health Project of the Year Award at the 2018 Public Oral Health Awards. Presented by Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV), the Public Oral Health Awards recognize public oral health professionals and organizations that go above and beyond to improve oral health outcomes.
Driven by DHSV in partnership with IPC Health and DPV Health, the study explored the role of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) in fighting tooth decay and reducing the number of dental hospitalizations of Victorian children. Dental decay is the most prevalent health problem in Australia, affecting almost half of all children by the time they are 12 years old. More than 400 children between the ages of 2 and 10 were successfully treated with SDF in the study.
“It’s a noninvasive and preventive approach that can be provided to communities most in need and is a great alternative to general anesthetic,” said DHSV chief oral health advisor Dr. Martin Hall. “Results show 78% of carious lesions arrested and, when possible, the parents opted for the application of silver diamine fluoride over the use of general anesthetic.”
The approach includes the use of oral health education and diet counseling in addition to SDF application.
“Even the youngest children will be more cooperative because they learn that dental visits don’t have to be painful,” Hall said.
Other honorees include Dr. Felicia Valianatos of Link Health and Community, taking the Star of Public Dentistry Award; Bendigo Health, named Clinic of the Year; and Jacinta Masters of Echuca Regional Health Service, recognized as the Community Oral Health Champion.
“It wasn’t easy for the judges to come to a final decision, as the public dental sector is staffed with dedicated professionals who want to take oral health promotion and care to the next level,” said DHSV CEO Dr. Deborah Cole. “It is great to see other members of the community, not necessarily clinicians, doing outstanding work to promote the importance of oral health too.”