Team Proposals

Participants at the 2017 Public Health Think Tank created a wide range of creative interventions for improving oral and dental wellbeing. Take a look at the team presentations and abstracts below:

Sharjah

According to studies, it was shown that the most effective prevention is to brush with fluoride toothpaste twice per day regularly in young children, rather than restricting sugary foods. (Gibson & Williams, 1999). It was also shown that 60-90% of school children globally have dental cavities. While locally, in Abu Dhabi 80-90% of 5 year old have dental caries. This is mainly due to the lack of motivation, improper techniques, and manual dexterity especially with children between 4 to 6 years old. The intervention, the Tooth Fairy App will be connected with an electric toothbrush that has to encourage kids to raise their brushing routine, thus, prevent early childhood caries. The features of the application are easy to use by the 4-6 years old child, user friendly, in addition, it contains monitoring program that collected data on whether the kids are brushing twice a day and at the right pressure. To encourage children for brushing, a level of the game in the App will unlock every week. This will help in motivating the children by competing with their friends in school.

At the beginning, it is important to approach a toothbrush company that will provide an electric toothbrush with a dental check-ups, and to develop an application. This will benefit them in promoting their product, and it is positive publicity for them. Then approach a school to apply the idea by the first of semester along with making a workshop to tell parents and children how to use the app.

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Umm Al-Quwain

In the past few years it has been shown that children aged 4-6 suffered from caries. Moreover, parents mostly take their children to the dentists only when they are in pain which translates to a severe case. Oral health has an impact on the overall health and quality of life of children. Our intervention is approaching the ministry of health to provide an ambulatory dental clinic for screening of 5 governmental schools in the emirates of Dubai that targets school children aged 4-8 years. Followed by the screening session, an interactive session between the parent and their child will be given by a specialist nutritionist a well as trained undergraduate dentist to try and modify the diet as well as give oral hygiene instructions. The barriers that we are going to face are: getting the bus permission from the school to enter, getting a dental specialist, parents might not come to the first visit or it may be hard to follow up on checkup visits.

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Dubai

Providing a social component towards dental information literacy so that a wide demographic of age groups can participate in the pursuit of pro-active dental strategies. This team plans to incorporate information technology to track and measure the development of preventative measure skills so that we can gauge the commitment and involvement of application users/members throughout the program’s effective timeline. Challenges will be incorporated as an element of competitiveness with tangible benefits provided as rewards; all within the reasonable timeline of two weeks. These challenges run for fifteen days but will cycle through a pre-set collection of challenges that can be pushed from the developer platform. The result should be a more aware population regarding dental care and the application of preventative measures.

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Al Ain

Currently, people in the UAE do not take regular preventive measures toward caring for their oral health. Despite generally high standards of health care in the United Arab Emirates, the dmft remains at extraordinarily high levels while the Care Index remains low, and our target population (Emirati children and their families) is not utilizing its resources. Our focal population has a centralized public healthcare insurance plan that covers preventive care. We have developed an e-based tool, “Basma”, that creates both a points-based system that rewards preventive health behaviors and encourages personal responsibility, and a data repository of health information for continual monitoring at a large scale. The regularity and number of dental visits are logged into our system used to calculate a reward in the form of discounts on attractive health-promoting products and services as well as services not covered by insurance. By documenting and incentivizing regular dental checkups as well as cleanings, we aim to directly increase regular doctor visits, and therefore increase the care index among Emirati children and youth. Concurrent with the initial launch of the program in January 2018, we will implement a multimedia campaigning to advertise our project. Annual data analysis will allow us to measure the long-term efficiency of the program, which will be required to run for at least 5 years.

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Ras Al-Khaimah

The aim of this intervention is to decrease the prevalence of caries in children across the UAE by increasing oral health awareness and constant reinforcement through the incorporation of oral health into the moral education curriculum within public schools. To implement this intervention, a cohort study will be conducted on public school children from Grade 1 until they reach Grade 6 (from 2018 – 2024). The cohort will be educated each year within the pilot program on multiple levels of dental health awareness and the results of their DMFT after six years will be collected. Comparing these results with the DMFT data of previous sixth graders who were not exposed to the oral health education program, we hope to see an improvement which evidences the effectiveness of the intervention and therefore the oral health program will be permanently implemented into the moral education curriculum across both public and private schools across the UAE. Our intervention is essential because at present, there is little pre-existing long-term curriculum on oral health. We provide long-term reinforcement which is key for children to break free from unhealthy socio-cultural norms, such as tobacco usage. This intervention also capitalizes on resources already available by implementing education through pre-existing jobs as well as preventing the onset of caries. Thus, government expenditure will be reduced in the long-run. Finally, given the current insufficient data available on DMFT of children across the UAE, this six-year long intervention also ultimately serves as a platform for data collection.

Case study

Ajman

Based on a study conducted at Hong Kong University that shows an alarming number of students suffering from dental caries. Our oral health intervention will therefore target university students during the academic year, the reason being that they are the hope of a better future. It is designed to comply with the UAE 2021 vision in which we are aiming to promote oral health, increase consciousness about oral hygiene, and overall increase the quality of life. Our plan, focuses on raising awareness, empowering individuals to take control over their lives. Furthermore, it strives to prevent, and in case of a problem; treat. It is possible to face several obstacles including: funding, acceptance, and authorization. We’ve developed methods to overcome the barriers such as: encouraging dentists and students, as well as rewarding them with incentives. The university and clinic management are needed on board to execute this plan. To measure the success, we’d conduct surveys with the help of an IT personnel, as well as dental checkups, then compare the results and records to determine the effectiveness of the plan. To ensure sustainability, we would count the number of participants in events annually, compare the statistics of disease prevalence, and follow-up with graduates. For the future; we’d strive to offer an elective course to increase students’ education, and expand the insurance coverage to include dental care.

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Fujairah

We propose a year-round plan to spark interest and provoke change in the UAE youth’s mindset about food choices and consequently, provide a solution for the dental caries epidemic. Fundamentally, a balanced diet is the key to healthy living and overall health – especially for young children. The medium through which we aim to enable this enterprise is the famous Dubai Food Festival where top chefs from all around the world are invited to the city to celebrate Dubai’s growth as a gastronomic city by giving visitors a taste of international food. During the two-week festival, middle school teachers from 15 public schools in Dubai will be invited to participate in workshops on the fundamentals of cooking and preparing nutritious yet delicious meals to improve their students’ dental health. After sampling participants, a group of dental student volunteers will conduct DMFT (Decay-Missing-Filled Teeth index) on 7th grade students in the 12-13 age group on agreed standards to assess their dental health. Throughout the school year, our participants will engage in competitions to cook healthy meals and snacks, with special emphasis on dental well-being and foods that stimulate salivary flow and enhance oral hygiene. Our goal is to empower children as active drivers of their own dental care. Our visible outcome will be data of DMFT before and after which can be collected as a reasonable sample for possible longitudinal study between healthy eating and caries – as a basis for long term research plans in UAE.

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Liwa

The Tooth Fairy Bus Project is a two-part public health intervention targeting public elementary school children in the UAE to help decrease the risk of dental caries and alleviate the fear commonly associated with dental hygiene procedures. The first part is the “Tooth Fairy Bus”, a mobile dentistry clinic focusing on checkups rather than treatments, especially dental pocket measurements. The bus will visit schools every six months to perform checkups and raise awareness of dental hygiene. The second part is the Tooth Fairy app, linked to the bus and providing a space for stakeholders to connect. The app will also ensure a presence in raising awareness for oral hygiene in absence of the bus. The dental hygiene care experience will be tailored to suit the interests of children, utilizing already existing, government owned mobile dentistry buses and revamping the interiors to suit children’s tastes. A reward system will also be put in place when children visit the bus, handing out prizes designed to aid in dental care. These rewards include sand clocks measuring out 2 minutes to ensure appropriate time is taken in brushing, and chewable toothbrushes and toothpastes to add novelty and convenience. The chewable toothbrush in particular introduces an innovative way to eliminate cross-contamination between students and messiness of traditional equipment, in the school environment. Our intervention aims to contribute in decrease of dental caries in UAE youth.

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