The Scottish Childsmile programme has reportedly reduced dental treatment costs by £5 million a year.
The early years scheme, operating in all nurseries and primary schools in deprived areas, offers young children free toothbrushes, toothpaste and two fluoride varnish applications per year.
‘Childsmile has delivered,’ Robert Donald, chair of the Scottish Dental Practice Committee and consultant editor of Dentistry Scotland magazine, said.
‘The Scottish Government should now take this opportunity to build upon this success and expand coverage to five-12-year-olds, to relevant teenagers and adults.
‘Scotland has shown that dental disease and deprivation don’t have to go hand in hand.
‘We must ensure that older children and young adults can reap the benefits.’
The number of children in primary one with ‘no obvious decay experience’ has risen from 54% in 2006 to 68% in 2014.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has called for the Scottish Government to build upon this success and expand coverage, and for administrations across the UK to take heed, and invest in prevention.
‘Childsmile has produced substantial savings, but this isn’t just about money,’ Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, said.
‘First and foremost it has saved young children from distress, days out of education, and ultimately avoidable dental treatment.
‘Politicians across the UK need to take stock of what Scotland has achieved.
‘Every government and every party likes to talk about prevention, but too few have recognised that oral health is a key part of the health mix.
‘Tooth decay remains the leading cause of hospital admissions among our nation’s children.
‘It’s time for proper joined-up thinking that ensures health care professional, educators and parents can provide the very best for the next generation.
‘The lesson from Scotland is clear: it’s time to invest in prevention.’