Objective To explore the perceptions of first year foundation dentists (FD1s) regarding oral health education (OHE) and its role in general dental practice. Design Focus group discussions. Setting Postgraduate training venues and general dental practices utilised for foundation training in South Wales, UK. Subjects (materials) and methods Nineteen FD1s accepted an invitation to take part in a series of focus groups. Focus groups were transcribed and data analysed using a constructive process of thematic content analysis to identify themes and theories relating to the FD1s' understanding of OHE and its role in the delivery of care as general dental practitioners. Results The data fell into three broad categories: the teaching of OHE delivery at undergraduate level; factors influencing the 'frequency and content' of OHE delivery; and barriers to 'effective and successful' OHE. The first category identified perceptions of the 'gold standard' of OHE following undergraduate experiences. The practicalities of the acquisition of technical skills had created a simplistic compartmentalised view of OHE which was not a priority in adult dental care. The second category covered triggers for delivering OHE; in general these were reactive rather than preventive. The last category dealt with successful OHE; unsuccessful OHE was attributed to the patient although communication barriers were recognised. Conclusion The subtle but important difference between OHE and oral health promotion (OHP) in terms of its role in general dental practice is recognised theoretically but not as a reality in practice. OHE is often compartmentalised and a simplistic approach to its delivery is taken. Against a backdrop of commissioning to improve health this has implications in developing organisational processes within general dental practice and training in order to achieve this.
- foundation dentists
- oral health education