Objectives: To describe the planning stage and the first year of “Smiles,” an innovative, inclusive oral health promotion program among preschool children, ages 3 to 5, encompassing the enhancement of daily toothbrushing skills, engagement of teaching staff and parents, and integration of a supportive environment of supervised toothbrushing in kindergartens.
Schlagwörter: community dentistry, early childhood caries, health promotion, kindergarten children, proportionate universalism
Method and materials: The major components of the first year of the program included workshops with the teaching staff, working sessions with the preschool children, and workshops with the parents. Program participation, program cooperation, program satisfaction, and kindergarten teachers, kindergarten parents, and dental hygienists’ attitudes towards this component of the program were recorded and evaluated. Minor components of the first year of the program included assimilation and integration of daily supervised toothbrushing in some of the kindergartens. Program participation, kindergarten teachers, kindergarten teachers’ assistants, and kindergarten parents’ attitudes towards this component of the program were recorded and evaluated.
Results: In total, 180 kindergartens, in nine locations across Israel, including 5,311 preschool children, their parents, and teaching staff, took part in the first year of the program. High levels of participation (80% and above), cooperation (9.55 to 9.78) and satisfaction (9.62 to 9.81) were recorded in the first year of the program. Kindergarten teachers, parents, and dental hygienists expressed high levels of support for continuing the program beyond its first year (9.86 to 10.00). Regarding the daily supervised toothbrushing model in the kindergartens, high levels of satisfaction (9.50 to 9.75) and willingness to continue the program (9.50–10.00) were recorded among kindergarten teachers, assistants, and parents.
Conclusion: The “Smiles” program serves as an example of successful collaboration between many partners and stakeholders from different organizations, sectors, and government ministries, local authorities, kindergarten management and staff, parents, and the most important partners, the preschool children. Its adherence to the basic principles of health promotion, and its professional adjustment to early childhood with positive atmosphere of happiness, joy, and shared warmth, contributed to the success of the program.