In the recently held 25th Congress of the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry (IAPD) at Glasgow, Scotland from July 1-4, 2015, Dr. Arun Mamachan Xavier, Reader in the Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Amrita School of Dentistry was shortlisted from a large number of entries in the world to the last 4 finalists to compete for the ‘Bright Smiles Bright Futures Award.' This award is bestowed in recognition of an innovative community oral health education program that motivates children and improves oral health habits. Dr. Arun was announced as a Classified Winner(Second Prize) at the inaugural function held at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Scotland on the 1st of July 2015 and was honoured with a certificate of excellence, a cheque of 500 US dollars and a flower bouquet.
The other finalists included Dr. Albert Yeung (Clinical Consultant in Dental Public Health, NHS, Lanarkshire, UK), Prof. (Dr) Ashima Goyal (Oral Health Science Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India) and Senior Prof. (Dr) Francisco Ramos-Gomez (Section of Paediatric Dentistry, CANDO Centre to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health, University of California Los Angeles, USA).
Dr. Arun’s mission was titled, ‘My Mama Cares for Me– A Proactive Dental Home Initiative’. His project was co-authored by Dr. Radhamani K.(Professor & Head of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences), Dr. Parvathy Sreekumar (PG Resident, Paediatric Dentistry, Amrita School of Dentistry) and Dr. Steffy M. Sunny (Dentist, Smile n Care Multispecialty & Paediatric Dental Home, Aluva).
He was requested by the IAPD to prepare a 15-minute oral presentation along with a poster presentation followed by a 5-minute question session from the leading and recognized paediatric dentists on July 01, 2015. He was judged by the current and former presidents of the International Association of Pediatric Dentistry (IAPD) - Prof. (Dr) Anthony Tzong-Ping Tsai (Taiwan), Prof. (Dr) Lisa Papagiannoulis (Greece), Prof. (Dr) Anna Maria Vierrou (Greece) and Prof. (Dr) Milton Houpt (Honarary Editor, International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry & American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, USA).
“A caries-free mother is the first step towards a caries free child,” says Dr. Arun. His large community-based mission covered the various aspects of prenatal, antenatal and postnatal oral care for the benefit of children and was conveyed through various oral heath sessions using several audio visual aids for the mother-child support system that included the medical and allied health professionals, primary health centre (anganwadi) teachers and workers in Ernakulam district. Teachers and social workers from 1668 anganwadi centres in Ernakulam district were educated through this mission.
Dr. Arun mentioned that there is substantial scientific literature proving on the vertical and horizontal transmission of S. mutans (caries promoting bacteria) from the mother to child. The sad part faced in our society is that though literature on prevention of oral diseases is very commonly read in publications, there is hardly any initiative taken in a large scale to prevent early childhood oral diseases like Nursing bottle / Early childhood caries right from the root level, ‘Pregnancy’. Hence, this mission targeted pregnant mothers initially, through an oral health awareness survey. The lack of awareness among the women population in the surveyed group provoked Dr. Arun to open two dental homes for time to time oral health counselling for pregnant as well as new mothers in the society. Oral health care pamphlets covering the essential aspects of prenatal and postnatal oral care were prepared in English and back translated to Malayalam language for distribution to the educated population. Video and power-point aided oral health sessions, education using posters, pictures, and collage representations etc. were a few of the aids used in this mission to actively disseminate information on oral health care during pregnancy and infancy. A telephonic education programme was also introduced and is currently in function for those mothers who have difficulty to attend oral health sessions. A Facebook group called Global Paediatric Oral Health Awareness Forum was also initiated, currently having more than 3500 members and actively addressing issues on prenatal, postnatal and early childhood oral care for the benefit of children at large.