Future Parents to Bee Prepared

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Dental nurse 'Bee' Power empowers midwives to change to the way oral health advice is delivered to future parents

Rebecca (Bee) Power has been a dental nurse for nearly 10 years working across many different specialities in dentistry. She is currently based at the NHS Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the maxillofacial and orthodontic department. Like many of her peers, the need to reach out to multidisciplinary healthcare teams to promote oral health has been on her mind for a long time.

After working in paediatric practices across the UK and London, Bee realised how poor the oral health information provided to parents or future parents was. So, having the right messengers – midwives – to deliver appropriate oral hygiene information to parents at the right time, when they are open to health advice, made so much sense to her.

Her many conversations with hospital Professional Midwifery Advocate Ella Caine increased Bee’s understanding of how midwives could reinforce the messages that pregnant women are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Bee was already aware that advanced gum disease has been linked with premature birth and low birth weight infants, and that cariogenic bacteria can lead to early childhood caries. This was shown by a BMC Oral Health study published in 2021 (1)

Bee acknowledges that for years dental professionals have tried to raise awareness of the potential negative impact poor oral hygiene can have on the health of both mothers and babies, but by handing the baton to midwives, and working in conjunction with them, it may be possible to make a real difference.

Bee joined the Philips sponsored Smile Revolution business course run by Victoria Wilson, to see how she could find ways of collaborating more closely with the midwifery groups, and she admitted that having access to a midwife like Ella, who is also a lecturer at the university linked to where she works, has definitely opened doors and she felt very privileged to have gained their trust.

As a result of her initiative, in-person lectures have been scheduled with the first cohort of student midwives at The University of East Anglia teaching hospital. After that, Bee hopes that the hospital will offer these lectures as extra training for midwives on an annual basis.

Follow up information and guidelines are to be provided for the midwives’ continued professional development. Bee has also arranged, with the help of Ella, and the Divisional and Deputy Divisional Director of Midwifery, Stephanie Pease and Kelly Stevens respectively, to present her vision and ideas to midwives in her hospital.

Bee is keen to approach the Nursing and Midwifery Council to discuss this project further, while in the meantime, Ella in her role as editorial board member of The Practising Midwife is looking at Bee writing about her educational project for the journal. The British Society of Paediatrics Dentistry is also on board with the idea, and Bee is hoping that the organisation will support her project.

Bee adds: ‘I am thrilled to have progressed with this project. Victoria Wilson has been a great sounding board and the project would not have reached the position it has without her. She is amazing at networking and the fact that she shares the same passion for oral health promotion as those of us on the course helps us move in the right direction.

“It is so inspiring. I want to make this project sustainable for the long term. All the midwives I spoke to are more than willing to implement my ideas into their curriculums, so it is very promising. I would also like to say how grateful I am to Philips Oral Healthcare which has sponsored me for this. The company has demonstrated an impressive level of care and has really helped numerous oral health projects come to fruition. It is very commendable’.

About Rebecca (Bee) Power

Rebecca Power is a registered dental nurse at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. As a passionate dental health professional, she is committed to helping improve oral health amongst pre- and post-natal mothers.

Rebecca will be working with midwives to help spread the message regarding the importance of maintaining optimal oral health amongst pre- and post-natal mothers. She is an oral health tutor and DCP representative for her local LDN. Rebecca has a big following on social media and has proved a positive role model and mentor for many dental nurses.

1) https://bmcoralhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12903-020-01372-4