Raised in Yorkshire (Research Activity in Schools Evaluating Dental Health)


Our excitingly collaboration with Batley Girls’ High School has continued, with a new project RAISED in Yorkshire (Research Activity In Schools Evaluating Dental health) 

This was in response to the girls who were involved in Don’t Smile asking if they could get involved in research to do their Extended Project Qualifications to enhance their experience and CVs to apply for higher education. Initially, it involved pupils monitoring oral health and tooth-brushing behaviour on their fellow students but it has now evolved into a much bigger ‘big society’ project.

Our RAISED in Yorkshire (Research Activity in Schools Evaluating Dental health) RiY –Is a community collaboration to enhance public engagement to reach and involve under-represented, at-risk young people to provide exposure to oral health research they value and is important to their community.

It has an inclusive approach engaging a wide range of young people who are most disadvantaged and embraces all backgrounds and celebrates discovering all types of talents. RiY offers wider benefits in raising aspirations of the young people participating and providing invaluable work experience to sixth formers who lack the parental contacts to open doors and we provide an enrichment programme that provides an excellent foundation to a range of careers in STEM, teaching and other vocational studies for all levels of ability striving to support them to maximise their capabilities.

RiY provides a strategic and unified approach to systematically engage young people in our community in public engagement and research that is meaningful to them in a fun and immersive manner. It incorporates bringing their voice to creative health co-production (co-creation) spanning the arts and STEM, alongside peer-to-peer education and participatory research. The aim is to use public engagement to drive research and innovation that improves oral health and knowledge whilst raising aspirations and providing invaluable research and work experience to those young people who are ordinarily most disadvantaged. RiY challenges dogma, empowers and improves communities through partnerships.

The School of Dentistry Staff, open wide undergraduates and postgraduate students coach/train 6th-formers to become oral health educators known as RiY Student Research Fellows (RiY-SRF). We assess their competency to deliver an engaging oral health programme (based on the Open Wide undergraduate scheme) to local primary schools: peer-to-peer oral health education. The RiY programme adds in reinforcement sessions on toothbrushing skills and supervised toothbrushing, incorporating co-development of arts-based curriculum resources to run theatre and debate workshops to engage with parents and key community leaders.

The university partnership team will oversee calibration to undertake evaluation of oral health assessments of the primary school pupils at baseline and specific time points to assess the success of the programme in terms of:

  1. Assessing oral health improvement through a range of oral examinations including combinations of disclosure tablets, plaque scores and collection of DFMT for longer term impact on caries.
  2. Tooth brushing mechanical skills using observations and when pupils have consented, independent video assessment;
  3. Oral health awareness and knowledge using engaging co-designed quizzes and questionnaires;
  4. Assessing impact on aspirations. Data from the RiY-SRF will be collected at the start of their training programme

Place/Community Need

Health need: Yorkshire has the second-worst UK prevalence of tooth decay; affecting almost 1/3rd of children before they reach school. Caries is concentrated to high risk groups within socially and economically deprived areas. Tooth decay in children presents considerable health, economic and social burden. Figures from Public Health England, Healthmatters The Burden of Tooth Decay on the NHS show:

  • The average cost of a tooth extraction in hospital for a child aged 5 or under is £836
  • £50.5m was spent on tooth extractions among those under the age of 19 in 2015 to 2016
  • £7.8m was spent on tooth extractions among the under 5s

Whilst tooth decay is preventable, reaching those most vulnerable remains challenging. Reaching parents/carers hold even greater challenges. Place-based partnerships public engagement. Figures from Public Health England, Healthmatters levels of tooth decay in England show:

  • A quarter of 5-year-olds have tooth decay with on average 3 or 4 teeth affected
  • The majority of tooth decay in children under 6 was untreated
  • There were 7,926 episodes of children aged under 5 years having 1 or more teeth extracted in hospital because of tooth decay

Young people enrichment: Young persons from areas of social deprivation can struggle to find mentorship beyond the school setting; exposure to persons that inspire and interest them; exposure to (work) experience to enhance the HE/apprenticeship applications; value and understand diversity of Arts and STEM careers available.