NHS North West London Dental Public Health Team, in partnership with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Colgate and QPR in the Community Trust held a ‘Brushathon’ for Hammersmith & Fulham primary school children at Loftus Road Stadium (home of Premier League football club Queens Park Rangers) to raise awareness of the importance of children brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to maintain healthy teeth.
Pupils from primary schools in the vicinity of the stadium attended the ‘Brushathon’ in the football stands, brushing their teeth for two minutes, using their new toothbrushes. The children were joined by QPR defender Nedum Onuoha, Barry Cockcroft, Chief Dental Officer for England, Anousheh Alavi, Colgate scientific affairs manager, local dentists, councillors and public health teams who brushed along with the children.
During the event, Nedum Onuoha, said: ‘It is important to look after your teeth as it is the first thing people see. A nice smile, healthy teeth and a healthy lifestyle is what people want to see.’
Nedum said he joined the ‘Brushathon’ as “this project helps children to get involved doing the right things now, and this could mean they all have fantastic smiles at 90!’
Barry Cockcroft said: ‘The basic things we have to do to prevent disease and improve oral health are very simple; the more complex thing is actually getting these messages across. What today has shown is how important it is to get those messages across to those who may not already understand them and this event where a football club is really getting engaged with their community makes that point. If we want to improve the oral health of the country we don’t just need to engage with dental teams, we also need to engage with local authorities, other people in healthcare, social services and educators to get these simple messages into schools and across society. It’s actually communicating to the people who most need to hear them that will make the difference.’
Hammersmith & Fulham children demonstrate the impact of inequalities in oral health with 44.5% of 5 year old children experiencing dental caries.1
A ‘Children’s Oral Health Task Group’ set up in 2011, by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, reviewed what could be done to reduce the number of children experiencing dental disease in the borough. One of the 14 recommendations coming out of this report was for there to be a ‘Child Oral Health Day’, focused in particular around primary school children, who experience the greatest inequalities in oral health.
The ‘Brushathon’, organised as part of a wider ‘Child Oral Health Day’ across primary schools in Hammersmith & Fulham, was an ideal channel to promote oral health. Schools were encouraged to organise tooth-themed activities for their children, and every primary school child from reception to year 6 received a free oral health pack containing a Colgate toothbrush and family toothpaste, a toothbrushing chart and leaflets for parents on how to look after children’s teeth and visiting the dentist.
Both the ‘Child Oral Health Day’ and ‘Brushathon’ were designed to reinforce messages delivered during the Hammersmith & Fulham ‘Keep Smiling’ fluoride varnish outreach and toothbrushing pilot launched earlier in the year, as well as QPR in the Community Trust’s new school-based ‘Health Stars’ programme, an important component of which is oral health.
The activities also support the objectives of the North West London Child Oral Health Improvement Strategy (NHS North West London, October 2011) to increase children’s exposure to fluoride, make oral health everybody’s business and integrate oral health into other public health and children’s programmes following a common risk factor approach.
1. Caries Experience in 5 year old children, BASCD 2007/8