Showing that baby teeth matter
Taking care of teeth in young children is critical for the health of adult teeth but are often overlooked. A program dedicated to helping us understand that baby teeth matter needed a long-term evaluation partner.
In the world of public health and health care, it is no longer possible to build a program and just run it. Our client in the dental industry had the ambitious goal of eliminating childhood tooth decay and approached it with a growing coalition of community partners and a trajectory of continuously evolving program design. More than a year into the program, they needed an evaluation partner who could make sense of all of the pieces, build a more adaptive evaluation framework and then provide results that would help them synthesize and focus their efforts moving forward.
Over the course of four years, data were collected and analyzed in order to help our client and its partners understand what was working and what was not working, frequently requiring us to step back, synthesize and refocus the direction of the program. An ad agency was critical for success and had developed a mass media campaign to communicate the message that baby teeth matter to the parents and caregivers across the state. Surveys were conducted to measure success of this and other efforts by program partners, followed by qualitative research to help shift the focus so that everyone was on the same page and working toward relevant short-term outcomes. Through an iterative process of research and planning over the next four years, the program reached a level of success with messaging and community engagement that made the broader program unnecessary, allowing partners to continue their work along the path created.