Child oral health programmes launched in Cornwall

Cornwall Council is launching three initiatives in a bid to improve oral health in children.

The authority said it had teamed up with Smile Together Dental CIC and Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities recorded 315 tooth extractions up to the age of 19 in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly between 2022 and 2023. Between 2021 and 2022, it recorded 320 tooth extractions for the same age group.

Councillor Dr Andy Virr, cabinet member for public health, said extraction of teeth because of tooth decay in children was an issue.

Promotion and education

The council said one programme, Smarter Smiles, would provide oral health education and a fluoride varnish programme.

Dental care professionals are going into early years and primary school settings in areas where children are at the greatest risk of poor oral health, linking to oral health care to relevant Ofsted standards, said Smile Together.

It added the professionals would be accompanied by "trusty mascot Dylan the Dragon" to deliver fun and engaging age-appropriate oral health promotion and education.

The latest work comes as a legacy to the Brighter Smiles programme, which delivered local toothbrushing clubs, fluoride varnishing and oral health education to about 6,500 children a year.

The council also said it would work with young children and adults with additional needs.

Dr Virr said extraction of teeth because of tooth decay continued to be the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged between six and 10 years-old. and was "preventable".

Outreach Manager at Smile Together Alison Cane said the work would "positively influence the oral health of thousands more children and adults most in need across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly".

The council said families would benefit from oral health packs which includes age-appropriate toothbrushes, sippy cups designed for toddlers, and oral health and guidance.

Referrals would also be available needed for specialist dental treatment for "more complex dental cases", said the council.

In addition to this, Smile Together and Go Cornwall Bus have jointly funded free oral health packs for every two-year-old in Cornwall.

The packs contained age-appropriate toothpaste, toothbrushes and a "top tips" leaflet, bosses said.

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