The Magic Dentist and its mission to change children’s oral health

The Magic Dentist and its mission to change children's oral health

Nicki Rowland details the thinking behind her new book, The Magic Dentist, and its mission to transform children’s oral health.

Please tell us a bit about The Magic Dentist

Having managed a dental practice near Hull, I was witness to a never-ending stream of children with severe oral health needs.

The state of children’s oral health was shocking pre COVID-19, but the crisis and the lack of accessibility to NHS dentistry has compacted the problem.

The number one reason that children are admitted to hospital in the UK is to have teeth extracted. More than 42,000 children were given general anaesthetic to have teeth extracted last year. Many under fives are even having full clearances.

The poverty crisis has impacted children’s oral health even further. Many parents cannot even afford to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste for their children!

In response to this escalating problem and the impact it is having on attendance figures at primary schools, I have launched a national campaign to educate children, provide basic oral health tools and alleviate the inherent fear of the dentist that many children seem to have.

Educational tool

The backbone of this campaign is the book that my daughter and I have recently published entitled The Magic Dentist. I have written the words and Izzy has created the illustrations. Here is a description of the book:

Do you have a child who does not want to visit the dentist? Does your child like a bit of magic? Well, you have found the right book! The Magic Dentist brings the tricks of a magician into his surgery to entertain and educate children during their visit. It is written in rhyming verse and even contains a magic spell to engage your child further.

This book addresses a wide array of problems relating to poor oral health in children. It also equips parents and professionals with educational tools to engage children to ensure that they understand the importance and positive impact of good oral health and to also prepare them for a visit to the dentist.

This book includes an annotated diagram of a tooth and basic dental terminology that children may hear in a dental setting which is then explained in simple terms in the glossary.

Engaging workshops

It is written in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England in Delivering Better Oral Health: an Evidence-based Toolkit for Prevention (fourth edition).

The campaign is a brand-new initiative where I am teaming up dental professionals with magicians from The Magic Circle to visit primary schools and practices across the UK to bring The Magic Dentist to life.

The idea is to deliver entertaining and engaging oral health workshops to educate primary school children in how to look after their teeth. They will go home with a bag of goodies including a free toothbrush, toothpaste and a copy of the book which has brushing instructions in it.

Oral health education is now part of the national curriculum in primary schools so a large part of the initiative would be to give teachers a workshop manual and to train them to deliver it themselves moving forwards.

I am looking for funding to cover the cost of ongoing supplies of toothbrushes and toothpaste to children whose parents cannot afford these basic oral health tools. I would also love for every primary school child to receive a copy of The Magic Dentist too.

What have you been doing to spread the word?

The campaign is gaining traction very quickly and has attracted a lot of media attention. I was thrilled that the launch of The Magic Dentist in Yorkshire was covered by BBC Look North and was also featured on BBC Breakfast last week.

I’ve also been interviewed on Humberside Radio and by local newspapers so word is spreading quickly.

I have set up a Magic Dentist chat inside my Facebook group called ‘Leadership in Dentistry’ and also have Instagram, Tiktok and Linkedin accounts if anyone wants to follow The Magic Dentist’s progress or join the campaign.

What support do you have so far?

Cattani ESAM UK are my first sponsor. I am hugely grateful to Pete and Jenna for their support. Their funding is allowing me to travel to roll out the campaign and buy The Magic Dentist books for the children that we are teaching.

I am seeking further sponsors or investors as this will be a long-term project to ensure that we optimise The Magic Dentist’s coverage and eventually reach every child in the UK. It’s a huge aspiration but as an industry we can make a significant impact on the dental crisis that we are facing if we all pull together.

There is power in numbers, as they say.

Where do you hope to take the project?

I hope to take the project across the UK and possibly globally if the opportunity arises.  I’ve already had enquires from Australia.

I have plans to visit The Isle of Arran in August as there has not been any dental provision for three years, leaving 500 children devoid of dental care.

I am running The Magic Dentist fun day with a dental couple who are reopening the only dental practice on the island.

We hope to educate as many of the children as possible and gift every child who attends with a copy of The Magic Dentist to consolidate their learning and give them the toolkit to look after their teeth in the future.

I am planning another fun day with the wonderful team at Love Teeth Kids in September and launching in Ireland later in the year. Watch this space for further, far flung locations.

How can the profession and industry help?

There is so much that everyone can do to help. I am not a political person but with the state of NHS dentistry as it is, it is up to us as a profession to take some control back and make a change.

Prevention is better than cure! I would love to see more sponsors jumping on board as I have been self-funding the whole campaign up until Cattani ESAM UK contacted me to offer their support.

My aspiration is to be able to gift The Magic Dentist book to every child in the UK, so a ‘paying it forward’ model is how I see it playing out.

Huge benefits

I would love to hear from any dental care professional who would like to deliver The Magic Dentist workshops in schools or run fun days in practice. If every dental practice across the UK could identify the primary schools in their catchment area and find out how many primary aged children are in those schools, we could pair them up with a magician to visit the schools and deliver the program.

It would be helpful, if the dental practices can find sponsorship to buy a book and a dental goodie bag for every child in their schools.

My own experience shows there are huge benefits from adopting a corporate social responsibility model for any practice or business as it increases visibility and allows the public to see the authentic and giving nature of the organisation. This subsequently build trusts and drives organic business growth.

It would be amazing to find dentists, DCPs or other professionals in the dental world across the UK that can actually do magic too. We could then have a pool of magicians we can tap into at a local level when events are being planned.

PS: If any dentist is interested in a job on the Isle of Arran, please let me know.

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