Building a picture of population dental health
How quality assured surveillance of population dental health has improved national targeting of oral health promotion, planning of health services and monitoring their effectiveness.
Reducing inequalities in health underpins global public health policy. Furthermore, policy makers are accountable for their actions. Using robust scientific approaches we are providing a health needs assessment of the population, especially vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, to deliver these goals.
Oral health in Wales
Research conducted by Maria Morgan, a Senior Lecturer in dental public health and a key player in the Welsh Oral Health Information Unit (WOHIU), detected a wide regional and socio-economic variation in children’s oral health in Wales.
The research findings are integral to national Welsh Oral Health Policy which have been used to set government child poverty targets and monitor progress towards them. Results from the research on older vulnerable adults has secured Welsh Government funding for the delivery of oral health care to care home residents.
Working with colleagues from the health service and Welsh Government has been key in producing quality research which is translated into action. Key partners includes the Public Health Wales dental public health team and the Office of the Chief Dental Officer in Wales, as well as Professor Ivor Chesnutt who is the lead for the Cardiff University Dental Public Health Unit.
WOHIU is recognised as a centre for excellence in dental epidemiology and advises government on oral health policy. Research outputs have direct impact on health services delivered to the people of Wales highlighting true public health in action.
Public health in action
The impact of the research has provided rigorous health information to monitor and plan services.
It has help to highlight inequalities in children’s dental health, prompting the introduction of Designed to Smile a national oral health programme. This has led to further monitoring of the programme according to levels of disease in the child population.
It has also impacted on vulnerable older adults living in care homes who previously have not had oral health needs assessment. It has led to securing recurrent funding which has improved care for this demographic.