Oral health promotion in the community pharmacy: an evaluation of a pilot oral health promotion intervention

Article metrics

Key Points

  • Many patients are poor dental attenders yet frequently visit their community pharmacy and are open to a pharmacy based oral health intervention.

  • Patients reported improved knowledge and intention to change oral healthcare routines following receipt of the intervention.

  • Further research to explore potential pharmacy based oral health services and interprofessional collaboration with the dental profession should be sought.


Introduction Poor oral health is a significant public health concern, costing the NHS in England £3.4 billion annually. Community pharmacies are easily accessible, frequently visited by patients and the community pharmacy contractual framework requires pharmacies to provide healthy living advice to patients - therefore offering a little explored avenue for the delivery of oral health interventions.

Methodology A pilot oral health promotion intervention was introduced in five pharmacies in deprived areas of County Durham between September and December 2016. A mixed methods approach to the evaluation was performed, utilising a patient evaluation questionnaire and semi-structured qualitative interviews with pharmacy staff.

Results One thousand and eighty-nine participants received the intervention. Following the intervention 72% of participants perceived their knowledge of oral health as much better, 66% definitely intended to change their oral health habits and 64% definitely thought a pharmacy was the right place to receive advice about oral health. Three themes emerged from the qualitative data: (1) intervention feedback, (2) knowledge gap and (3) service development.

Discussion The data demonstrated the acceptability of patients to a community pharmacy based oral health intervention, with most patients reporting intentions to change their oral healthcare habits after receiving the intervention. Previous literature has identified a willingness of pharmacy staff to become involved with oral health; this study provides evidence that patients are also receptive to such services being delivered in the community pharmacy setting. Further work is required to assess the benefits of a community pharmacy based oral health intervention and the potential for further growth of this role.

Conclusion A community pharmacy is perceived by patients as an acceptable provider of oral health interventions and has the potential to provide positive changes to the oral health of the population.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3


  1. 1

    Marcenes W, Kassebaum N J, Bernabé E et al. Global Burden of Oral Conditions in 1990–2010: a systematic analysis. J Dent Res 2013; 92: 592–597.

  2. 2

    NHS England. Improving dental care – a call to action. 2014. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/imp-dent-care.pdf (accessed 21 April 2017).

  3. 3

    O'Sullivan I, Morris J, Chenery V et al. Service considerations - a report from the Adult Dental Health Survey 2009. In O'Sullivan I (ed). Adult Dental Health Survey 2009. pp 1–19. London: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care, 2011.

  4. 4

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Oral health promotion: local authorities and partners. 2014. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/PH55 (accessed 31 August 2017).

  5. 5

    Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee. About Community Pharmacy. Available at: http://archive.psnc.org.uk/pages/about_community_pharmacy.html (accessed 21 April 2017).

  6. 6

    Wilson N, Soni A . Interprofessional working: a spearhead opportunity for dentistry and pharmacy. Br Dent J 2016; 221: 607–608.

  7. 7

    World Health Organization. Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report of Surveillance. 2014. Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112642/1/9789241564748_eng.pdf?ua=1 (accessed 21 April 2017).

  8. 8

    Public Health England. English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR) Report 2016. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575626/ESPAUR_Report_2016.pdf (accessed 21 April 2017).

  9. 9

    Mauder P E V, Landes D P . An evaluation of the role played by community pharmacies in oral healthcare situated in a primary care trust in the north of England. Br Dent J 2005; 199: 219–213.

  10. 10

    Mann R S, Marcenes W, Gillam D G . Is there a role for community pharmacists in promoting oral health? Br Dent J 2015; 218: E10.

  11. 11

    Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee. Services Commissioning. Available at: http://psnc.org.uk/services-commissioning/4-service-domains/public-health-services/ (accessed 21 April 2017).

  12. 12

    Bissett S M, Stone K M, Rapley T, Preshaw P M . An exploratory qualitative interview study about collaboration between medicine and dentistry in relation to diabetes management. BMJ Open 2013; 3: pii: e002192. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002192. Print 2013.

  13. 13

    Simpson T C, Needleman I, Wild S H et al. Treatment of periodontal disease for glycaemic control in people with diabetes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010; 5: CD004714.

  14. 14

    Chapple I L, Wilson N H . Manifesto for a paradigm shift: periodontal health for a better life. Br Dent J 2014; 216: 159–162.

  15. 15

    Stratton I M, Adler A I, Neil H A et al. Association of glycaemia with macrovascular and microvascular complications of type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 35): prospective observational study. BMJ 2000; 321: 405–412.

  16. 16

    Dietrich T, I. Webb L. Stenhouse et al. Evidence summary: the relationship between oral and cardiovascular disease. Br Dent J 2017; 222: 381–385.

  17. 17

    World Health Organization. WHO Oral Health Fact sheet N°318. April 2012. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs318/en/ (accessed July 2017).

  18. 18

    Institute of Medicine. Advancing oral health in America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2011.

  19. 19

    Walsh T, Worthington HV, Glenny A M et al. Fluoride toothpastes of different concentrations for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010; 1: CD007868.

  20. 20

    Wordley A, Lee H, Lomazzi M, Bedi R . The sugar tax – An opportunity to advance oral health. Br Dent J 2017; 223: 11–12.

  21. 21

    Public Health England. Delivering better oral health: an evidence-based toolkit for prevention. 3rd edition. 2017. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/605266/Delivering_better_oral_health.pdf (accessed 21 April 2017).

Download references


Sandra Laws, Oral Health Promotion, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust; the five community pharmacies and their staff who participated in the pilot and the evaluation; the patients who received the intervention.

Author information

Correspondence to A. Sturrock.

Additional information

Refereed Paper

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sturrock, A., Cussons, H., Jones, C. et al. Oral health promotion in the community pharmacy: an evaluation of a pilot oral health promotion intervention. Br Dent J 223, 521–525 (2017) doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.784

Download citation

Further reading