Just over a year ago, I witnessed first-hand a number of dental procedures being carried out during a visit to PCH Dental and RCHT which could have been prevented by improved oral health (blog on the visit HERE).
When you see children as young a seven having teeth pulled out because of decay, it certainly highlights a problem that I felt as the Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, something really had to change to address dental hygiene in Cornwall
The shocking statistic is an estimated 99% of cases of teeth extraction is due to poor diet and dental hygiene and considered preventable. It gets worse, with around 25% of five-year olds in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are found to have tooth decay. This is 99% preventable.
In 2011/2012, 830 young people under the age of 18 years in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had teeth extracted under general anaesthetic – with an average of three teeth per child.
From my visit, I arranged a meeting with various Health and Public Health partners to see how we could address the problem. The short version of the process is organisations came together, contributed with funding and started a pilot programme to start to address this issue.
The pilot programme took place over a three-month period from April 2015 and was run at St Meriadocs Infant School. The pilot proved to be a great success. Dental Therapists from PCH Dental worked with the school to give oral health education to around 100 children aged three to five years including introducing a supervised ‘tooth-brushing club’ for nursery children and applying fluoride varnish to the teeth of children in the reception classes.
With the success of the pilot, I am very pleased to say the Council has commissioned PCH Dental to deliver this programme. This next phase will target areas where children are at higher risk of poor oral health. One of the aims of this programme is to reduce this inequality.
The official launch of the Oral Health Programme took place at St Meriadocs Infant school. Children from this school were asked to come up with a logo for the programme, with the winner announced at the event.
It was great to see so many fantasitc entries, and it was very hard to pick a winner. However, a winner was duly picked and there was prizes for second and third places too. In fact, all the children who entered in the competition got a goodie bag (healthy one).
The Oral Health Programme will deliver tooth brushing clubs in 27 nurseries; oral health education programmes and tooth brushing demonstrations in 20 children’s centres and fluoride varnishing programme in 20 schools.
Highlighting the importance of keeping teeth and gums healthy at an early age will not only help reduce the need for teeth extraction as a result of decay in children, but also into adulthood.
The first two phases of this programme to raise awareness of the importance of good dental care from an early age have been very successful and I look forward to working in partnership with PCH Dental and Public Health to deliver this next phase. From this phase, I want the programme to be available county-wide in the near-future.
Thanks again to all who took the time to listen to me and help solve this issue. I could not have done this without you.