Scottish Government
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Children’s dental health improving

Pioneering Childsmile programme also saving millions for public purse.

An innovative dental health programme is dramatically improving children’s dental health and saving nearly £5 million a year in treatment costs avoided, Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said today.

Childsmile offers every child attending nursery in Scotland free daily supervised tooth brushing. In the most deprived areas, this extends into primary schools.

Children are also offered free toothbrushes and toothpaste and two fluoride varnish applications per year. Parents and adult carers are given dietary advice for children in their care to help prevent and mitigate tooth decay.

From 2006 to 2013 more than half a million fluoride varnishes were carried out in nurseries and schools, providing extra protection for young teeth against decay. This contributed to the number of primary one children with ‘no obvious decay experience’ rising from 54 per cent in 2006 to 68 per cent in 2014.

The emphasis is very much on prevention rather than treatment, which leads to substantial savings in costs as fewer children require extractions, fillings and general anaesthetics.

Today Ms Watt visited Peterhead Central School and Nursery to see the programme in action.

Ms Watt said:

“I’m really pleased to see the children here taking such pride in cleaning their teeth. Picking up good habits at a young age means less tooth decay, which in turn means less toothache, fewer sleepless nights and less time off school. Not to mention these good habits will last a lifetime.

“We’ve made great progress since 2007 in improving access to NHS dentists – with 92 per cent of Scottish children now registered. The success of the Childsmile programme speaks for itself, saving millions of pounds and making such a difference youngsters’ oral health.

“This is a really tremendous example of spending to save. The Childsmile programme shows what can be achieved when we have a real focus on prevention – in particular in the world of public health.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in Childsmile – parents, dentists, health visitors, nursery and school staff – for their hard work and dedication. They are all playing their part in the improving state of our children’s teeth.”

Dr Jonathan Iloya, NHS Grampian Consultant in Dental Public Health said:

"We are very proud of the Childsmile programme and the difference it is making to oral health for children across Grampian. It is a pleasure to welcome the Minister for Public Health to Peterhead Central Primary School and introduce her to the Childsmile programme and team."

Christian Henderson, Headteacher at Peterhead Central School and Nursery, said:

“We were very pleased to welcome the Minister for Public Health to our school to see how the Childsmile programme has been benefitting children here.

“The children have certainly enjoyed learning how to keep their first teeth healthy using the dental packs provided and I’m sure they’ll continue to look after their teeth as they grow older.”

Notes To Editors

Oral health disorders are the most common reason for elective hospital admission of children in Scotland, accounting for over 10,000 episodes per year.

From 2006 to 2013, 500,846 fluoride varnishes have been carried out by Childsmile in nurseries and schools. Fluoride varnish provides extra protection for teeth against decay.

Childsmile is commissioned by the Chief Dental Officer and delivered by a range of health professionals. There are a range of partners in education, voluntary and community sectors who work collaboratively with Childsmile to promote and improve children’s oral health.

The National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) found that in 2006, 54 per cent of primary one children had ‘no obvious decay experience’. By 2014 that figure had increased to 68 per cent. The equivalent figures for Grampian were 56 per cent in 2006, compared with 73 per cent in 2014.

Similarly, in 2013 NDIP reported that 73 per cent of children in primary 7 had ‘no obvious decay experience’ with the equivalent figure in 2007 at 59 per cent. The equivalent figures for Grampian were 74 per cent in 2013, compared with 55 per cent in 2007.

Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. ‘Spitting, not rinsing’ after brushing gives the toothpaste time to protect teeth.

It is envisaged that every child in Scotland will have access to Childsmile.

 

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