Project targets dental health of babies and tots

A UK university, in partnership with the NHS, is launching a two-year project to prevent tooth decay in young children and babies.

The project – by the University of Salford – is in partnership with Salford City Council with funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

Children in the North West have one of the highest levels of tooth decay in England.

By the time children in Salford start school more than half of them will have experienced tooth decay, and nineteen children every month are admitted to hospital to have teeth extracted under general anaesthetic.

The project aims to prevent rather than cure tooth decay by targeting the parents of babies and following them until the children are three years old.

The participants will be split into three groups, all of which will have access to dental services via a dental practice linked to their local children’s centre.

Two of the groups will be given an additional service. This will be either the application of fluoride varnish to teeth every six months or educational work with parents designed to establish good oral hygiene and diet routines.

The university will analyse data on the number of decayed, missing or filled teeth that children develop and use the results to decide which of the services is the most successful.

Professor Cynthia Pine is the principal investigator and executive dean of the Faculty of Health & Social Care.

She says: ‘A project of this size has never been carried out in very young children before. Our focus is to improve children’s dental health in Salford and I’m delighted we can work in partnership across the city.’

Lindsey Bowes, of NHS Salford, says: ‘I’m pleased that we are able to work with Cynthia and her team to promote dental health in Salford. The programme will encourage families to register with a local dental practice and make visiting a dentist a normal part of growing up.’

NHS Salford is funding the £250,000 study through a grant from the National Institute for Health Research’s Research for Patient Benefit programme.

Partners include Salford City Council, local NHS dental practices in Salford, the University of Liverpool, the University of Bangor and the Medicines for Children Research Network. 

For more information or to take part, call 0161 295 5095 or email [email protected]

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