ADAVB Chief Executive Officer's Comments
October 2019 Hide Comments
Improving community perceptions of going to the dentist
Despite the prevalence of dental disease, and the impact that it has on health and well-being, just over half of the adult population have had a dental check-up in the past 12 months. This has been a relatively consistent trend over the past 20 years. Early intervention and prevention are critical for improving oral health, hence the emphasis on regular dental attendance. Behaviour change is a fundamental part of what we try to do in dental practice – trying to encourage our patients to quit smoking, eat less sugar or brush their teeth more often. It is in the dental setting that we are most likely to affect the behaviour change necessary to improve oral health. But we know that changing behaviour is difficult to do at the individual level, and even more so at the community level.
In the recent member survey, there was strong acknowledgement that ADAVB acts on issues that affect the oral health of the community. More specifically, you told us that you wanted the ADAVB to focus its efforts on direct public promotion activities, such as a public awareness campaigns to improve community perceptions of going to the dentist and highlighting the importance of good oral health.
Comments from members included:
‘High profile multi-media campaigns highlighting the importance of good oral health and teeth.’
‘Raise public awareness … to improve community perceptions of going to the dentist.’ 
‘Increased advertising to the public on (the) importance of seeing an ADA member dentist.’
‘More media marketing about the benefits of dental health.’
So we’ve listened, and have been working with leading behavioural change marketing experts at The Shannon Company* on a campaign that highlights these key issues. The campaign is designed to educate and build awareness of the consequences of not having regular dental check-ups, building on the fact that pain and cost are key drivers of dental avoidance behaviours. The key message is about taking control of your dental health and visiting an ADA dentist before problems arise. This message aims to reframe the narrative around pain and cost – rather than avoiding the dentist because of the perception of pain and cost, it is better to have regular check-ups to avoid toothache and more costly treatment later. We think that confronting these barriers head-on is the best way to try to change patient behaviour, and the initial market testing that we have done for this campaign bears that out.
The campaign will be a little provocative and edgy to get cut-through with consumers. Appeals to the authority of dentists are less likely to resonate and drive the behaviour change required. The campaign will be predominantly across social media, with images and video on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. We will target individuals with online ads too, which will use the knowledge of what websites they have previously visited, their online search history, and their likes and interests on social media, as well as audio ads on Spotify.
The campaign will direct people back to a landing webpage with a range of resources as well as a ‘Find a Dentist’ function to help direct them to an ADAVB member practice. For this reason, it is important that your practice details are listed on the ADA ‘Find a Dentist’ web page. Log-in at to make sure your practice details are correct, so that consumers who engage with this campaign can find you and make an appointment.
We aim to launch the campaign in November, and we will provide members with more information and supporting collateral for their practices to engage with the campaign closer to the launch. 
* You may be familiar with some of the campaigns that The Shannon Company has been involved with, including ‘No Jab, No Play’, ‘Royal Australian College of General Practitioners – Your Specialist in Life’ and ‘WorkSafe – Occupational Violence Against Healthcare Workers’.
A/Prof Matt Hopcraft

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Clinical A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft
Chief Executive Officer
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