Toothbrushing rules: power dynamics and toothbrushing in children

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Freeman, R. ; Whelton, H. ; Gibson, B. (2010)
  • Publisher: Stephen Hancocks Ltd

Dental caries is a disease of childhood social disa\ud dvantage being considered as a marker of family dep\ud rivation \ud and relative poverty. School-based programmes such \ud as, ‘Winning Smiles’ (WS) have been used to promote \ud toothbrushing with luoride toothpaste in children r\ud esiding in areas of high social deprivation. Withou\ud t a clear \ud understanding of the underlying toothbrushing dynam\ud ic how could WS achieve its deined aim to promote \ud toothbrushing as a self-care practice in children r\ud esiding in areas of greatest deprivation? The need \ud to research \ud the dynamics of childhood toothbrushing remained. T\ud he aim of this qualitative exploration was twofold,\ud irst \ud to explore children’s views of toothbrushing and se\ud condly, to relect, if possible, on the degree to wh\ud ich the \ud children’s views and experiences can aid an underst\ud anding of the power dynamics of toothbrushing pract\ud ices \ud in childhood. In order to achieve these aims it was\ud necessary to use a child-centred approach to glean\ud the \ud thoughts, values and opinions of the participating \ud children. The children who participated were aged b\ud e-\ud tween 8-9-years-old and resided and attended school\ud s in the most deprived parts of Dublin and Belfast.\ud The \ud data analysis was theoretically underpinned by the \ud work of Foucault and Nettleton. The children had a \ud series \ud of toothbrushing rules which were a conglomerate of\ud ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. The rules relected an element\ud of con\ud -\ud lict in the children’s behaviour since they describ\ud ed what the children felt they ‘should’ do (‘toothb\ud rushing \ud rules’), as well as what they ‘actually’ did (‘toot\ud hbrushing practices’). The toothbrushing rules were\ud mainly \ud based on their parental household rules which the c\ud hildren incorporated into their toothbrushing pract\ud ices. \ud It is suggested that children incorporate informati\ud on from parents, school-based programmes and the de\ud ntist \ud into their toothbrushing practices. This qualitativ\ud e exploration has allowed the process of understand\ud ing the \ud power dynamics associated with children’s toothbrushing t\ud o begin. In order to gain a greater understanding \ud from the child’s perspective greater time is need t\ud o appreciate how children incorporate what appears \ud to be \ud a rather mundane aspect of everyday life into their\ud health repertoire.
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