Tele-screening for tooth decay in early childhood during the COVID-19 pandemic
Tooth decay remains one of the most common diseases in young children. Forty per cent of preschool children have at least one tooth with decay.
A combination of factors can cause tooth decay, including presence of microorganisms, sugary drinks and snacks, and oral hygiene. Tooth decay can cause pain and infection and if it remains untreated can affect eating, speech, and sleep.
What is the Dental Screening Study about?
The Dental Screening Study aims to assess a dental photographic method as an alternative dental screening method. The method will be based on still images taken from a child’s mouth by his/her parents, using a smartphone camera and the internet. These images will then be used for an evaluation by dental practitioners.
The findings of this study will help to provide potentially low-cost and sustainable preventive dental care for children, that can still be conducted during a pandemic. This approach has the potential to prioritise children, based on their dental needs, to receive appropriate treatment at the appropriate time.
Who can participate?
The study is looking to recruit children from ORIGINS families that are approaching three-years-old. The examination will take place at the three-year ORIGINS appointment.
What does participation involve?
If you decide to take part in the Dental Screening Study, we will ask you to complete and sign a consent form. When you attend for the study, a member of our team will be available to answer any questions about the study.
Dental inspection: A specialist paediatric dentist will examine the child’s mouth using sterile disposable dental kits on the lap of their parents (knee to knee technique), at the same time as their BOD POD* assessment at the three-year ORIGINS appointment at Edith Cowan University.
Dental photography: With the help of a trained dental research assistant, parents/guardians will also be guided to take standard dental photos of their child, using a smartphone camera. This will be done at the three-year appointment, following the dental examination. This method is non-invasive and is less stressful for small children and may be used as an alternative method of dental examination in future. The collected dental photos will be independently reviewed by two calibrated dental therapists at a separate time.
Feedback: You will be asked to provide your feedback about the dental photography experience at the end of the session.
Timing: The dental examination and photography will take no more than 30 minutes.
You will receive the results of your child’s dental exam and a recommendation will be provided for your child’s oral health within two weeks of the appointment. You will also be informed about the results of the study at the end of the project.
An incentive (gift card) will also be provided as a thank you for your time and participation.
This project has been funded by the WA Department of Health - FHRI Focus Grants.