Professionals’ perspectives on how to address persistent oral health inequality among young children: an exploratory multi-stakeholder analysis in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Awani Balasooriyan*, Christine Dedding, Clarissa Calil Bonifácio, Monique H. van der Veen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Oral health promotion interventions have had limited success in reaching families in disadvantaged neighbourhoods resulting in persistent oral health inequality. This qualitative study provides insight into professionals’ perspectives on children’s poor oral health (≤ 4 years), their perceptions of the roles and responsibilities, and opportunities for child oral health promotion strategies. Methods: Thirty-Eight professionals from different domains (community, social welfare, general health, dental care, public health, private sector) working in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, participated through 24 semi-structured (group) interviews. Transcripts and notes were analysed through thematic analysis. Results: Professionals indicate that unhealthy diet, children’s non-compliance, poor parental coping, parental low oral health literacy, parent’s negative attitude, family’s daily struggles, and insufficient emphasis on childhood caries prevention in dental practices, general healthcare and social welfare organisations, underlie poor oral health. They hold parents most responsible for improving young children’s oral health, but recognise that families’ vulnerable living circumstances and lack of social support are important barriers. Interestingly, non-dental professionals acknowledge their beneficial role in child oral health promotion, and dental professionals stress the need for more collaboration. Conclusion: A broad child-, parental-, and societal-centred educational communication strategy is perceived as promising. Professionals working within and outside the dental sector acknowledge that local and collective action is needed. This involves a better understanding of family’s complex daily reality. Furthermore, intensifying child oral health knowledge in dental practices is essential in collaboration with families, general health and social welfare organisations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number488
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Oral Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is subsidised in part by The Borrow Foundation and Eklund Foundation. Funding parties have no influence on the design of the study.

Funding Information:
This study is funded by The Borrow Foundation and Eklund Foundation. The authors are grateful to the local key informants and experts who helped build rapport with professionals working with families in a disadvantaged neighbourhood.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Children
  • Collaboration
  • Dental Caries
  • Disadvantaged neighbourhood
  • Families
  • Multidisciplinary professionals
  • Oral Health Inequality

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