Positive feedback from EFP national societies and members of the public, success in reaching people most at risk of periodontal disease, a content-generating tool that can be used in future campaigns, and a clear message about the problem of unequal access to oral-health care.
These were the key results from Gum Health Day 2022, according to the campaign’s co-ordinator Moritz Kebschull.
At the heart of this year’s May 12 awareness day – which centred on the theme “Treat you gums” – was the innovative Campaign Builder tool to generate customised content in the form of posters and images for social media. The Campaign Builder allowed not only the national societies but also individual dentists and practices to include their own logos in customised messages.
This tool, with 10 ready-made slogans in 23 languages, proved a hit with the EFP’s national-society members, said Prof. Kebschull. “We got an awful lot of feedback that was positive and what is clear is that this content generator is not a one-off, but something that we can use again – not just for Gum Health Day but also in other EFP campaigns.”
He said that the three main aims of this year’s campaign had been to make it customisable for local situations, to offer information that went beyond diagnosis to focus on treatment (and taking into account the EFP’s clinical practice guidelines), and to focus on the at-risk population.
Success in reaching target
In last year’s Gum Health Day campaign on social media, the EFP discovered that it was getting extensive reach, but not necessarily among the target population of older people most at risk of periodontal disease.
Learning the lesson from this, for Gum Health Day 2022 the EFP opted for targeted social-media advertisements (mostly in Facebook and LinkedIn). This involved placing advertisements in the feeds of social-media users in the target age groups who, for example, had recently looked at material related to oral health or diabetes.
The automatic embedding of the hashtag “#TreatYourGums” in all material created by the Campaign Builder means that the EFP has been able to track the social-media impact of Gum Health Day more than ever before and evaluate the extent to which the right people have been reached.
Moritz Kebschull said that there had been more than a thousand uses of the content generator to create social-media “stories” and posts and, in some countries, posters for printing to be displayed in dental practices. “My German colleagues are crazy about posters”, he noted.
He envisaged that the tool could be reused by the EFP and its national societies, not only for Gum Health Day but also in other health-education campaigns. “My dream would be to customise it even further so you can use videos and more specific information from the society, company, or person participating.”
Inequality of access
One of the key messages of this year’s Gum Health Day campaign was to encourage people to visit their dentist or dental team for prevention, advice, and treatment.
But the reaction from people reached by the campaign on social media highlighted the fact that in some countries this is easier said than done.
The UK, in particular, has a huge problem in terms of access to periodontal and dental care within the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS). A recent report from the Association of Dental Groups highlighted the need to tackle England’s “dental deserts”, warning that only a third of adults and less than half of children have access to an NHS dentist. The report also highlighted the growth of serious diseases – mouth cancer and type-2 diabetes – that can be detected earlier via regular dental check-ups.
Moritz Kebschull commented that this problem of lack of access to basic dental care “is something new for the EFP, because in most countries the issue is more about dentists having to compete for patients. But in some areas, like the UK, there is an absolute paucity of treatment options while in other countries, such as Spain, the feedback has been more along the lines of ‘I can’t find a dentist I can afford.’”
He said it was important for the EFP to focus on this growing inequality of access and that this topic would be part of a forthcoming research project that the federation is preparing with one of its partners.