New scheme aims to tackle tooth decay among Lancashire's children
Dental teams met at Preston North End last week to launch ‘Starting Well’, a government programme to better children’s oral health.
The aim is to persuade the parents of hundreds of under-fives who have never seen a dentist, to attend regular check-ups.
Plans for the programme dubbed Starting Well include:
• Community dental teams to visit children’s centres to set up tooth brushing clubs.
• Toothbrushes and flouride toothpaste packs will be given to children at risk of tooth decay.
• Dentists will hold open days throughout the year to increase the number of under-fives attending check-ups.
Health minister Steve Brine said: “It is only by working closely with the dental profession to promote outreach schemes, that we can ultimately reduce the number of children suffering the potentially catastrophic effects of tooth decay.”
Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, deputy director of Public Health England, said: “Oral health is improving but too many children still experience pain, discomfort and days off school due to dental decay – particularly in deprived areas.
“In the North West, higher levels of deprivation, child poverty and inequality have a significant impact on children’s dental health.
“Targeted programmes like Starting Well will help dental teams reach those families that need them and help improve our children’s oral health and give them the best start in life. Getting the right advice and treatment, such as using fluoride toothpaste, and reducing sugar will help improve the outcomes for children especially as the consumption of sugary foods and drinks is particularly something that affects the younger age group.”
Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen were named among 13 areas most in need.
The Department of Health said more than a quarter of children under five suffer from tooth decay.
In 2016, only a third of children of that age had visited a dentist and 26,000 were admitted to hospital with rotten teeth – the most common reason for hospital admission in under-nines.