Training staff about oral health is essential to raising awareness about the impact and importance of oral health on the overall health and wellness of children, pregnant women, and pregnant people.
Tips and Strategies for Training Staff
- Use information in children’s health records and your Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) data to look at the percentage of children receiving needed follow-up care and children whose treatment still needs to be addressed; identify opportunities for TTA.
- Develop an annual training plan and review it quarterly to make sure it continues to meet the oral health training needs of Head Start staff and families; adapt it as needed.
- Consult with your state dental hygienist liaison or other oral health professionals about their availability to offer oral health training (e.g., presentations).
- Apply evaluation comments from trainings to inform and plan future TTA activities.
- Refer staff to the Brush Up on Oral Health tip sheets that offer up-to-date practices and practical tips to educate Head Start staff and enable them to promote good oral health.
Resources for Staff Professional Development
- Improving Oral Health for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Children and Their Families
- Open Wide: Oral Health Training for Health Professionals
- Oral Health and Learning: When Children’s Oral Health Suffers, So Does Their Ability to Learn
- Promoting Children’s Oral Health
Collaborating with Families
Families’ involvement in their child’s oral health is key to their child’s overall health and well-being. Families who introduce, reinforce, and model good oral health behaviors and attitudes pass them on to their child.
You can help families realize the impact of oral health on their child’s physical, behavioral, and emotional well-being by helping them obtain and understand information to make informed oral health decisions. To help families support their children’s oral health, implement strategies that consider families’ culture, language, and practices.
Tips and Strategies for Collaborating with Families
- Develop an oral health education plan for your program or evaluate an existing plan that promotes prevention and early intervention tailored to the families your program serves.
- Identify and use culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate oral health education materials.
- Establish a learning environment that supports the participation of all children, including those with disabilities.
- Communicate with families in their primary or preferred language or through an interpreter to the extent possible.
- Consult with the family when problems with a child’s oral health or oral hygiene skills are identified.
- Provide oral health education, including information on oral disease prevention, emergency first aid, and oral health safety practices.
- Consult with your state dental hygienist liaison for support in identifying, developing, and presenting evidence-based or evidence-informed educational materials on oral health.
- Share the Healthy Habits for Healthy Smiles tip sheets with families to support and reinforce information presented in family activities and one-on-one conversations.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: June 23, 2023