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UNC Video on Children’s Oral Health in North Carolina Wins National Contest

A video highlighting early childhood oral health research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers, has won first place in the 2014 Power of Oral Health Research Video Contest, sponsored by Friends of the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (FNIDCR), a nonprofit coalition supporting NIDCR by educating the public and key decision-makers about the importance of oral health research.

[Photo: In screenshots from the award-winning video, Zero Out Early program participants talk about the importance of oral hygiene for infants and young children.]

The video premiered at the 2014 FNIDCR Annual Conference and Awards ceremony on January 28 in Washington, DC and is available online here.

Research described in the video was part of the multi-year ZOE Initiative (Zero Out Early Childhood Tooth Decay), led by Dr. Gary Rozier, research professor of health policy and management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the Dental Public Health Residency Program in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) Division of Public Health, Oral Health Section; Ms. Leslie Zeldin, research associate at the UNC School of Dentistry; and Ms. Kelly Close, project coordinator in NCDHHS’ Oral Health Section.

The ZOE Initiative evaluated the impact of preventive dental activities in North Carolina medical offices and Early Head Start (EHS) centers on childhood tooth decay. More than 400 North Carolina teachers and staff in 25 EHS programs in 41 counties were trained in basic oral health strategies and encouraged to link children with doctors providing preventive dental services such as dental screenings and fluoride varnish application as part of well-child visits.

To help teachers share these strategies with parents, ZOE provided motivational interviewing training, a collaborative way of communicating with parents. Preliminary results from the ZOE project are favorable. Families with children in Early Head Start programs had significantly better oral health-related quality of life than did non-participating families and were more likely to have a dental home and visit a dentist. More than 90 percent of targeted children used preventive dental services in the first three years of life, a critical time for child development.

Ms. Melanie Raskin, an award-winning Chapel Hill writer, producer and director, produced the video. Ms. Raskin is also the consultant writer/producer/director of Tooth Talk, the easy-to-use, interactive website that gives Early Head Start, Head Start and other early childhood educators and child-care providers the information they need to help prevent early childhood tooth decay.

The winning video was judged on content quality, technical presentation, and impact, and was designed to help educate the general public about the scope of oral diseases and how NIH/NIDCR-funded research helps to solve the challenges of oral health while providing a return-on-investment to the American economy.

Read more about the issue of oral health in North Carolina in a 2012 brief by Dr. Gary Rozier, which appeared in the N.C. Medical Journal.

Read about the launch of Tooth Talk here.

Read more on the UNC Gillings School website.