A qualitative exploration of promoting oral health for infants in vulnerable families.
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Introduction Oral disease in very young children is far more common among children in deprived and vulnerable families than among their peer group. Such children are at the highest risk of requiring a general anaesthetic for removal of decayed primary teeth.Aim This study aimed to create new knowledge about how best to promote oral health among a target population, about who very little is established with regard to how to successfully intervene to improve long-term oral health.Method Phase one of the study developed a logic model, and phase two delivered an oral health-promoting intervention by working with the Family Nurse Partnership. The social and empirical acceptability of the intervention was explored, and the attributes needed by people delivering such an intervention were investigated in-depth.Results The thematic analysis of phase one data produced seven key themes which appeared to influence parents' ability and willingness to accept an oral health intervention aimed at their infants. These were: their personal experiences, current oral health knowledge, desire for dental care for their child, the timing of an intervention, their perception of difficulties, family norms and the level of trust developed.Conclusion It is possible to motivate the most vulnerable families to establish behaviours which are conducive to good oral health, and that intervention is feasible and appropriate if a trusting relationship is adopted by the deliverer of the intervention. Families were successful in adopting oral health behaviours and visiting dental services when such circumstances were established.
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