Oral health programs

Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles


About Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles

Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles aims to improve the oral health of Victorian children aged 0-3 years and pregnant women by building capacity of health and early childhood professionals to promote oral health.

Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles has a range of training and professional development packages for professionals working with young families to support better oral health. Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles works with:

  • Midwives involved in antenatal health care
  • Maternal and Child Health nurses
  • Early childhood professionals including child care educators, supported playgroup facilitators and family support workers
  • Aboriginal health services
  • General practitioners, practice nurses and refugee health nurses
  • Dietitians and other allied health professionals
  • Pharmacists

For more information about how you can promote oral health in your work visit our professionals’ page www.dhsv.org.au/professionals.

The Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services funds Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) to deliver the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles initiative.

Why children aged 0-3 years and pregnant women?

    mother with daughter
  • Dental admissions are the third highest cause for preventable hospital admissions in children under 5 years of age.
  • Nearly one half of 6 year old children have a history of decayed baby teeth.
  • Early childhood is a critical time when lifetime habits are established.
  • Early childhood dental decay influences long term oral health as well as general health and wellbeing.
  • Pregnant women are at increased risk of gum disease and links exist between advanced gum disease and premature and low birth weight babies.
  • Poor oral health of mothers is associated with early childhood caries in their children.
  • Dental decay is Victoria's most prevalent health problem.

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Current initiatives

Online oral health training for Midwives

Click to learn about midwife trainingThe Midwifery Initiated Oral Health Education Program (MIOH) is an online training course that equips midwives working in antenatal care with the skills and confidence to include oral health in their practice.

The MIOH e-learning program is a collaborative partnership with the Centre for Applied Nursing Research, Western Sydney University, Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health District/Ingham Institute Applied Medical Research.

Midwives working in antenatal care can click on the button to express interest in enrolling in this course.

Advancing oral health in Midwifery Practice

Click here for the Midwifery Initiated Oral Health Newsletters

Healthy Little Smiles in early childhood services

early childhood services The Healthy Little Smiles education program consists of an oral health promotion resource kit and a two hour workshop for early childhood educators. The program supports long day care, family day care and kindergartens to engage children and families about oral health and embed oral health promotion within their services.

The Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles team also work with tertiary education providers to embed oral health in early childhood education and care curriculum. For more information contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team.

Register for the Oral Health resource kit

Please register to access the Good habits for healthy teeth - resources for children and families

Bigger better smilesBigger Better Smiles for Aboriginal Health Services

Bigger better smiles illustrationBigger Better Smiles is an oral health education program for staff working in Aboriginal Health Services.  The program was developed in partnership with Mallee District Aboriginal Service (MDAS).  The program aims to build knowledge, skills and confidence to integrate oral health promotion across the service, focussing on workers who see families with young children and pregnant women.

For more information or to submit an expression of interest Aboriginal Health Services can contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team.

Illustrations by Shakara Montalto (Gunditjmara)

Baby Teeth Count Too! Oral health information for playgroups

flip chartThis flipchart resource is an educational tool developed especially for supported playgroups.  There are 13 key messages about good oral health in the flipchart as well as dental services information and other useful links. The flipchart can be used to start discussions with families about oral health. The package includes a flipchart and a user's guide and is supported by a training session to build confidence, knowledge and skills to promote oral health in the supported playgroup setting. Contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team for more information or to submit an expression of interest.

Click here to access the Good habits for healthy teeth - resources for children and families

Oral health education packages for health and early childhood professionals

oral health education packagesSeveral oral health promotion education programs have been developed for staff working in:

  • Early Parenting Centres
  • General practice
  • Family Support Services
  • Early childhood services
  • Supported playgroups
  • Aboriginal Health Services
  • Universities and TAFES (courses for disciplines working with pregnant women and children aged 0-3 years)

Contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team for more information.

Supporting dietitians to include oral health in their work apples

Diet is a key factor in oral health so Dental Health Services Victoria partnered with the Dietitans Association of Australia to develop a national position statement on oral health and nutrition.  This position statement provides the basis for dietitians to incorporate oral health in their role by providing evidence based oral health information for dietitians, setting out how oral health can be incorporated into the various roles of dietitians and providing a framework for building capacity of the workforce. For more information contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team.

Supporting pharmacists to include oral health in their work

Oral health for pharmacistsPharmacists are easily accessible and trusted professionals so they are an important group to work with to improve oral health in the community. A partnership between the Victorian Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), Dental Health Services Victoria and the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch resulted in a joint position statement on oral health which provides a foundation for pharmacists and the dental sector to work collaboratively to support better oral health in the community and consequently better general health. DHSV also supports professional development activities for pharmacists in partnership with PSA (Vic).

You can view the statement on the pharmacists’ professional page www.dhsv.org.au/professionals/pharmacists under ‘Resources for you’.

Tooth packs for healthy brushing habits

Tooth packsThe Tooth Packs pilot study, funded by the Department of Health, was established to test whether providing tooth packs to families through the maternal and child health service improves brushing habits in children. Six targeted communities were involved in the pilot.

More than 5000 toothbrushes and 3500 toothpastes were distributed to around 1500 families in the pilot which showed a trend towards better brushing habits. A Colgate grant has made it possible to continue distribution of tooth packs in these communities until mid-2017.

Tooth Packs is a partnership project between DHSV, Department of Education and Training and the Maternal and Child Health Services at Swan Hill, Robinvale, Orbost, Bairnsdale, Dandenong and Brimbank.

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Advancing oral health in midwifery practice

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Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Summary Evaluation Report 2012-2015

The evaluation of the program is supported by DHSV’s Centre for Applied Oral Health Research.  A summary of the evaluation findings for the 2012-2015 funding period is available here:

Contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team for more information.

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Resources for health and early childhood professionals

DHSV has a dedicated online resource centre for professionals. This page has a range of oral health promotion guidelines, toolkits and manuals suited for health and early childhood professionals.

Rogers, J. Evidence-based oral health promotion resource. Prevention and Population Health Branch, Government of Victoria, Department of Health, Melbourne, 2011

Oral health messages for the Australian public. Findings of a national consensus workshop (2011) Australian Dental Journal; 56: 331-335

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Contact the Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Team

Allison Ridge
Health Promotion Program Manager
P: 9341 1144
E: allison.ridge@dhsv.org.au

Gillian Lang
Health Promotion Project Officer
P: 9341 1162
E: gillian.lang@dhsv.org.au

Robyn Alexander
Health Promotion Project Officer
P: 9341 1196
E: robyn.alexander@dhsv.org.au

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