Children benefit from toothbrushing packs and oral health education during National Smile Month.

Community Dental Services CIC, along with East Suffolk Community Partnerships and Lowestoft Rising, are raising awareness around oral health amongst children in years one, two and six.

In response to growing concerns over the number of children in the area requiring general anaesthetic appointments for dental treatment, CDS is reinforcing the key oral health messages to establish prevention rather than cure.

600 toothbrushing packs will be distributed to primary school children, scout groups and food banks in Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, with an additional 1,500 packs for years one and two children in Lowestoft.

Whilst many children in Suffolk have healthy teeth compared to the national average, there are some areas where tooth decay is still very high.  According to the 2019 National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England Oral Health Survey, overall, 23.4% of five-year-old children in England had experience of obvious dental decay. Tooth decay is a serious health issue with recent figures revealing that 43,000 children and young people had been admitted to hospital to have teeth that are unable to be saved removed under general anaesthetic. This is the single highest reason for a child to be admitted to hospital for treatment under general anaesthetic. Tooth decay can significantly impact children’s oral and general health, affecting their confidence, wellbeing and ability to take part in everyday activities such as attending nurseries and schools, yet it is preventable.

Cllr Mary Rudd, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Community Health, said: “It’s really gratifying to see such a beneficial resource being provided for the community through the distribution of these oral health packs. The project is designed to help encourage young people to develop and maintain good oral hygiene habits, while also thinking about their dietary choices.”

“We’ve heard from local food banks that oral hygiene is one of the things affected by the current cost of living pressures, so I hope this project can help ensure families receive the right tools and information. It’s particularly important at a time when many people have struggled to access dental care following the pandemic. Where a short survey has been sent out in conjunction with the packs, we’ll be considering any feedback received from families and school staff.”

Amanda Turner, Oral Health Improvement Manager at CDS said: “CDS is the only oral health education provider commissioned by NHS England, alongside East Suffolk Council in the Waveney area and Norfolk County Council, to deliver our Healthy Smiles accreditation programme to schools in Norfolk and Waveney. We are an organisation that supports the community and we are looking at reducing the inequalities in oral health. By providing Oral Health input, the project ensures the right message and education is given. In the packs received by year six children, we have also provided an evaluation piece of work produced for the teachers and pupils themselves. Our Healthy Smiles Award is a programme that is proven to work, instilling good oral health habits in young children that last a lifetime.”

Local supermarket, Morrisons has supported the free toothbrushing pack for the project work in Lowestoft, which contains a tube of toothpaste, toothbrush, timer and information sheet from CDS.

CDS’s Healthy Smiles Award combines oral health improvement to raise awareness of how to care for teeth and combined with supervised toothbrushing sessions in the classroom.

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