Designed to Smile, the oral health prevention programme set up by the Welsh government to tackle tooth decay rates of five-year-olds, will now target children under five years of age.

The new target comes on the back of the programme’s success in lowering tooth decay rates in five-year-olds in Wales by 12% since the programme’s inception in 2008.

‘The refocus of the programme will encourage everyone working with children under five to help improve their oral health’, commented Wales chief dental officer, Colette Bridgman.

‘It is important that every young child in Wales is supervised to brush their teeth with family fluoride toothpaste at bedtime, and on one other occasion every day.

‘Having nothing sweet to eat or drink in the last hour before bedtime will also help to protect teeth from decay.’

Early prevention

Research has shown that dental decay often starts early and therefore early prevention will have the most impact.

The new focus of the Designed to Smile activities will therefore shift towards this younger age group, with the aim of achieving as many children as possible to be decay free by five years old.

‘I am very pleased to see how successful Designed to Smile has been in improving children’s dental health in Wales and want to thank all those who have been involved in the programme for their hard work and commitment’, said Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health, at the Designed to Smile symposium in Cardiff on Thursday (30 March).

‘We now know that to improve dental health further, it is important to start at an earlier age, so that tooth decay can be prevented before it becomes a problem.

‘That is why we are refocusing the programme so it targets the under fives.’