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Scottish kids benefit from Childsmile

01/02/2012

Children across Scotland are now benefitting from a programme designed to improve their oral health.

The £15m Childsmile nursery, school and practice programmes have now been rolled out across the country, and are being delivered in every health board in Scotland.

The programme emphasises the importance of tooth brushing and helps parents establish a healthy diet from the earliest stage.

Through the Childsmile initiative, every nursery in Scotland is offered free, daily, supervised toothbrushing for their children, and a number of nurseries and schools in targeted areas also provide fluoride varnish and toothbrushing in primary one and two.

Every child is provided with a dental pack containing a toothbrush, tube of fluoride toothpaste and an information leaflet on at least six occasions by the age of five.

And since the end of last year, all families with newborn babies across Scotland are now offered information on Childsmile from their health visitor.

If the family is not registered with a dentist, Childsmile staff will contact families at the three month stage to offer oral health advice and help them find a dentist for their child.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson today (Wednesday) visited a dental practice in Glasgow to see the programme in action and to meet one of the families who are benefitting from it.

Knightswood Dental Practice is one of over 900 practices across Scotland which deliver the Childsmile Practice programme.

The Childsmile Practice programme was rolled out at the end of 2011, and is the last strand of Childsmile to be introduced across the country.

Mr Matheson said: "Childsmile is an ambitious programme and I am pleased to say that all elements of the programme are now being delivered in every health board across the country.

"Thanks to work to ensure that children know the importance of dental care at the earliest age, Scotland's children are now primed to have a lifetime of good oral health.

"Through Childsmile nursery we have seen specially trained dental nurses going into schools and providing clinical preventive care to children. Targeting children in the most deprived areas, Childsmile School is also delivering a range of preventative care interventions for children in primary one and two to reduce the risk of dental decay.

“Now the Childsmile practice programme, of which Knightswood Dental Practice is a fantastic example, is ensuring good dental health practices are established at the earliest possible stage of a child’s life.

“Through the Childsmile programme, 94 per cent of all nursery schools and 95 per cent of primary schools in the most deprived areas have taught children how to brush their teeth properly.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate parents for all their efforts as well as thanking the teachers, nursery and dental staff who help with the Childsmile who play a key role in running the Childsmile programme.”

Ray McAndrew, Associate Medical Director, Oral Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, added:

“During the last 10 years there has been a significant reduction in the number of children with dental decay in our health board.  At the beginning of the last decade nearly 60 per cent of five and 11 year olds had experienced dental decay. Currently this has fallen to 40 per cent of children in these age groups.

“This has been achieved as a result of a number of both Scottish Government and Greater Glasgow and Clyde initiatives. The latest programme to be launched was the extension of Childsmile Practice to all NHS dentists in Scotland in the autumn of 2011.

“This exciting programme encourages dentists and their staff to give advice to parents on the care of their children`s teeth. It places a strong emphasis on preventing dental decay through daily tooth brushing using fluoride toothpaste and advice on diet.

“Childsmile Practice also encourages dentists to apply fluoride varnish to young children`s teeth which has been shown to reduce tooth decay. It is hoped that Childsmile Practice will build on the good work of the last 10 years and we hope to see further improvements.”

Childsmile is funded by the Scottish Government and consists of four separate strands of activity – the Childsmile Core Programme, Childsmile Practice, Childsmile Nursery and Childsmile School.

Since 2008, the Childsmile core, nursery and school strands have been rolling out across the country, and Childsmile Practice is the latest part of the programme to be rolled out.

The Childsmile Practice programme is designed to improve the oral health of children in Scotland from birth by working closely with dental practices.

Childsmile is introduced to the family by the public health nurse or health visitor who will refer them straight to a dental practice or to a Dental Health Support Worker (DHSW).

The DHSW will contact children from the age of three months to make a first appointment for the child with a local Childsmile dental service.

They will also provide the central link between dental services, the family and the public health nurse or health visitor, give additional oral health support to children and families most in need and link children who have been identified as not currently attending a dentist, with local Childsmile dental services.

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Children’s dental health across Scotland is better than ever before, with figures released at the end of last year showing that for the first time all NHS boards met the Scottish Government target for 60 per cent of primary sevens to have no obvious signs of tooth decay.

Figures released in 2010 also show that 64 per cent of primary one children have no obvious sign of decay, the highest ever percentage.

The Scottish Government has worked with partners, including health boards, schools and general dental practitioners, across Scotland to develop the Childsmile programme.