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Developing leaflets to give dental health advice to Aboriginal families with young children




Dental caries (decay) is a serious problem for young Aboriginal children, causing pain and stress. Treatment often involves extraction of teeth under a general anaesthetic. However, dental caries can be prevented by reducing the frequency of sugar consumption and brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Such straightforward advice could be given to families by Aboriginal Health Workers who are trusted by their communities and have an existing advisory role. This paper reports on the development of dental health advice leaflets for use in Aboriginal communities.


An Aboriginal reference panel was recruited to comment on dental health advice leaflets prepared by an Aboriginal graphic designer. The panel was asked to consider the design, cultural appropriateness and practicality of the leaflets. Comments were collected through email and face-to-face discussions, which were collated and the leaflets altered accordingly.


The advice from the panel resulted in greater use of pictures. For example large green ticks and red crosses highlighted healthy and unhealthy behaviours, respectively. The tooth brushing leaflet was amended to emphasise the safe storage of toothpaste in order to keep it out of reach of young children. The panel stated that all leaflets should incorporate the Aboriginal flag, and proposed that fridge magnets might be beneficial as all family members would benefit from seeing the messages every day.


The consultation process refined dental advice leaflets to reflect the views of an Aboriginal Reference Panel, in terms of design, cultural competence and practicality.