Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has successfully launched a new ‘Smiles Matter’ supervised tooth brushing programme in Oldham.
The initiative was launched after the borough was identified as one of 13 hot spots for poor oral health in England.
‘Smiles Matter’ is a new Greater Manchester oral health transformation initiative, which is part of the wider national ‘Starting Well’ programme to raise awareness of the benefits of good oral health hygiene in two to five year olds
Bridgewater Right Start Service has been working alongside Greater Manchester Health & Social Partnership (GMHSCP) to encourage nurseries, school reception classes and private, voluntary and independent organisations (PVI) to sign up to the supervised tooth brushing programme.
Michelle Clegg, Bridgewater’s Right Start Oral Health Lead Practitioner said: “Approximately three quarters of the Local Education Authority (LEA) nurseries across Oldham are currently participating and approximately 60% of eligible early year settings have also signed up to the supervised tooth brushing programme.
All the children involved in the programme receive a free toothbrush and are helped each day to brush their teeth with toothpaste containing the correct amount of fluoride.
At the end of each year and the summer term they also receive a take home pack, which contains a toothbrush, family fluoride toothpaste and an information leaflet with key messages to promote oral health including:
- Brushing teeth twice daily, last thing at night and one other time of day using a family fluoride toothpaste (1350 – 1500 parts per million)
- Spit out after brushing. DO NOT rinse your mouth
- Supervise children until at least seven year’s old
- Reduce the amount and frequency of sugary foods and drinks
- Visit a dentist as often as recommended and ask about dental checks by the time your child is one”.
GMHSCP have also been hosting a number of learning events for the Oral Health Champions from each participating educational establishment on the correct method of daily toothbrushing and cross infection prevention.
Early feedback has been very positive with Dental Champion Katy Claber from Blackshaw Lane School in Oldham commenting: “The children absolutely love it, and it takes no time at all to do. We even play a clean your teeth song from You Tube which also helps”.
In a 2014-2015 dental survey of five year olds, Oldham had 51% of children suffering from tooth decay.
It is hoped that this programme will contribute to further improvements in children’s oral health and narrow the oral health inequalities across the Greater Manchester region.
With the long term goal of reducing the incidence of children requiring general anesthetics for extraction of decayed teeth which at present costs Greater Manchester over £20m.
Claire Stevens, paediatric dentistry consultant and children’s oral health lead with Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: “This new initiative is aiming to tackle the very real problems we face in Greater Manchester with large numbers of young children experiencing significant tooth decay often before they even reach school age.
“Such problems can cause pain, sleepless nights and missed days of school for many children. Across Greater Manchester, this is adding to the daily challenges faced by many of our least well-off families and putting additional pressures on the NHS. This new £1.5 million oral health programme will tackle these impacts and will hopefully play a vital role in our ambition of giving all of our children the best start in life.”
If you would like more information on the ‘Smiles Matter’ oral health programme for your educational establishment, please contact:
Oral Health Project Support Officer, GMHSCP.
Bridgewater’s Right Start Oral Health Lead Practitioner