The Minnesota Oral Health Project continually tries to learn about the community so that we can work with local groups to teach caregivers about healthy teeth. We all know that oral health starts at birth and healthy habits that are started when a child is young stops cavities from starting. Children often continue with these good oral health habits for life.
In 2016, the MN Oral Health Project asked the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center from Southwest Minnesota State University, to study education about oral health and applying fluoride to children’s teeth. The goal was to improve how caregivers, physicians and dentists work together to improve oral health of children.
To better understand the situation, five focus groups were held along with a meeting with doctors and a meeting with dentists.
Finding a dentist. It was highlighted in the focus groups that Caucasian people had insurance and transportation which allowed them to visit the dentist at least once a year. Hispanics, Somalian, Hmong and Karen people struggled finding a dental clinic that took their insurance, especially in the city of Marshall, MN. If Somalian and Karen people did find a dentist, they did not have transportation to get to the appointment.
Fluoride. The people in the groups were aware of various ways they get fluoride during the day, but they didn’t know how much they were getting. They were curious as to if they were getting enough or not. Hmong people, on the other hand, were less aware of fluoride and its purpose; however, they have heard of fluoride. Fluoride varnish was a new idea for almost all of the people in the groups. Having fluoride varnish applied by doctors was seen as a benefit for the Somalian, Hispanic, Hmong and Karen people, but was seen as unusual and almost an insult to dentists by the Caucasian people. This is because they have a family dentist they visit frequently. If this was not the situation, they could see how this idea would be useful. None of the people in the groups knew about MN Oral Health Project.
Information learned at the focus groups provide us with good information about our community and we know that other communities may be the same. We want our community to know about how cavities and tooth decay happen and how to prevent cavities.