Exploring parents' and teachers' perceptions of promoting oral health in children

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The study aimed to explore the perceptions of teachers and parents of infant school children in primary schools positioned and servicing affluent and deprived populations as intermediate and end users of oral health promotion services in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.

Two primary schools within the Vale of Glamorgan were selected each representing different geographical locations within the area as well as different socio-economic profiles. A focus group of parents (n=8 school 1); an individual face-to-face interview with one parent (school 2) and individual face-to-face interviews with both headteachers and one reception teacher from each school. A 12-item interview schedule was devised in which face and content validity was established. A thematic analysis using Nvivo was then undertaken in which themes and sub-themes were identified.

Seven themes emerged from the analysis of the data. These included: ‘responsibility’, ‘the dentist’, ‘the role of the health visitor and school nurse’, ‘school policy’, ‘oral health education’, ‘positive role modelling’ and ‘Designed to Smile’. Confused messages were reported by both teachers and parents, which suggest that different approaches are needed in the delivery of key oral health messages.

There were clear differences in the perceptions of disease experiences of children in the teachers and the parents of each school and clear evidence of dental disease having an impact on some of the children in school 1. Health visitors and school nurses as public health professionals are best placed to take the lead on oral health promotion in pre-school, school children, young people and their families in communicating clear, accurate, consistent and unambiguous evidence-based messages. Working more collaboratively with Designed to Smile, general and community dentists can do much to raise the profile of oral health promotion particularly for those families who need it most.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-185
JournalBritish Journal of School Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2017


  • oral health promotion
  • oral health risk factors
  • behaviour change
  • Designed to Smile


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