Community-based interventions usually involve a number of different strategies and activities aimed at creating changes in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills that influence health. One of the unique features of community approaches is that they typically include strategies to create change in individuals and families as well as efforts to change organizational and environmental factors and policies that influence behavior and health. These interventions are designed to promote oral health through interventions to increase awareness (e.g., knowledge of the impact of oral diseases and conditions on overall health), healthy behaviors (e.g., better nutrition with less sugar, stopping use of tobacco, regular brushing and flossing), and access to services (e.g., services available in the community, services available at reduced cost).
Community-based interventions include strategies that are implemented (or put to action) in a variety of places with a variety of partners including:
- Metropolitan areas
- Racial and ethnic minority communities
- Community centers
- Dental offices
- Health departments
- Community Health Centers
- Medical centers
- Schools (elementary, middle, and high school)
- Head Start programs
- Institutions for older adults
- Institutions for individuals with physical or mental challenges
- Retail stores
- Athletic unions
Previous work in community-based settings has found:
- Community-based oral health interventions can reach populations that may not be reached in other settings.
- Children spend many hours after school at community organizations (e.g., boys and girls clubs). Community-based interventions provide an alternative to schools and allow for the tailoring of programs to each individual child. In these interventions, children may work on goal setting and skills building to improve oral health behaviors.
- Community and leisure time settings for oral health interventions can provide support, motivation, and reinforcement for behavior change learned in other settings.
- Retirement villages can incorporate oral health activities into their social events to encourage healthy lifestyles among the older residents.
- Day care centers have an abundance of children and can provide direct messages to parents regarding the oral health of their children.
- College campuses are effective settings to launch oral health campaigns using the campus newspaper, advertisements in various places around campus, and promotional items distributed to students.
- It is important to establish legitimacy for oral health interventions in the community as a community project and not an experiment.
- In community or organizational settings, intervention strategies often include informational support (information about oral diseases and illnesses), tangible support (skills and abilities people have to prevent cavities, gum diseases, and oral cancer) and appraisal support (sense of acceptance and belonging as individuals make choices to change oral health-related behaviors).
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