Free toothbrushes for children

The oral health campaign in Wales to get children under three to brush their teeth properly is being expanded to nurseries and playgroups.

All Community Dental Services in Wales are now delivering the Designed to Smile (D2S) scheme, Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced.

More than 30,000 children are now benefiting from the scheme, delivered through 500 schools, improving their oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Following successful pilots in north and central south Wales the programme was rolled out nationally in 2009 and is now being expanded in to nurseries and playgroups.

In the scheme, dental health support workers deliver a supervised toothbrushing programme in schools and provide toothbrushes and toothpaste to schoolchildren along with oral health advice.

Significant progress has been made across Wales with more children from deprived areas taking part in toothbrushing schemes designed to provide children with the tools they need to develop and maintain good oral health from an early age.

Part of this service is delivered via mobile dental health units that provide specialist preventive care and treatment to schools.

The monitoring report produced by Cardiff University detailing activity in the first full year of the initiative shows that:

• More than 500 schools and 30,000-plus children now benefit from the programme (up from 8,116 in the first period of the scheme)

• 30,000 home packs including toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste have been distributed in each of the pilot areas

• Over 12,000 fissure sealants delivered, preventing tooth decay and reducing the need for fillings • More than 2,000 parents have received oral health advice through events in South East Wales pilot area.

Health minister, Edwina Hart, said: ‘The latest survey of the dental health of five year olds in Wales showed that a little under half had active decay and the majority of these children are from areas of deprivation.

‘By targeting these children, Designed to Smile will deliver a range of preventive care interventions for children in schools and nurseries to help reduce the risk of dental decay.

‘The progress on this programme has been excellent. It is a One Wales target to provide a public health-focused, strengthened community dental service and Designed to Smile has helped to deliver improvements across Wales.’

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