Study protocol for First Dental Steps Intervention: feasibility study of a health visitor led infant oral health improvement programme

Patricia N. Albers*, Joanna G. Williams, Sarab El-Yousfi, Zoe Marshman, Reena Patel, Rebecca Kandiyali, Katie Breheny, Frank de Vocht, Chris Metcalfe, Robert Witton, Ruth Kipping

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Dental caries in childhood is a burden on the daily lives of children and their families, and associated with poor oral health in adulthood. In England, dental caries is the most common reason for young children to be admitted to hospital. It is believed that most tooth extractions (due to decay) for children aged 10 years and under, could be avoided with improved prevention and early management. National public health policy recommendations in England include specific oral health initiatives to tackle tooth decay. One of these initiatives is delivered as part of the Healthy Child Programme and includes providing workforce training in oral health, integrating oral health advice into home visits, and the timely provision of fluoride toothpaste. This protocol seeks to assess the delivery of the First Dental Steps intervention and uncertainties related to the acceptability, recruitment, and retention of participants.

This study seeks to explore the feasibility and acceptability of the First Dental Steps intervention and research methods. First Dental Steps intervention will be delivered in local authority areas in South West England and includes oral health training for health visitors (or community nursery nurses) working with 0–5-year-olds and their families. Further, for vulnerable families, integrating oral health advice and the provision of an oral health pack (including a free flow cup, an age appropriate toothbrush, and 1450 ppm fluoride toothpaste) during a mandated check by a health visitor. In this study five local authority areas will receive the intervention. Interviews with parents receiving the intervention and health visitors delivering the intervention will be undertaken, along with a range of additional interviews with stakeholders from both intervention and comparison sites (four additional local authority areas).

This protocol was written after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result, some of the original methods were adjusted specifically to account for disruptions caused by the pandemic. Results of this study will primarily provide evidence on the acceptability and feasibility of both the First Dental Steps intervention and the research methods from the perspective of both families and stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Article number245
Number of pages14
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first dental steps intervention is funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI). Funding for this research was obtained through NIHR School for Public Health Research, Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES041).

Funding Information:
The research team would like to acknowledge the Health Visiting Team Leads who we consulted with while designing the study.

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

Structured keywords

  • HEHP@Bristol


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