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Supervised tooth-brushing scheme targets dental decay in Portsmouth children

Nicole Duah-Boateng from Somers Park Primary School (Picture credit: 'The News, Portsmouth)

Nicole Duah-Boateng from Somers Park Primary School (Picture credit: 'The News, Portsmouth)

A supervised tooth-brushing programme designed to increase good oral health in young children is being launched by the University of Portsmouth in fifteen local primary schools.

Children around the age of four are being taught how to brush their teeth by class teachers trained by University Dental Academy staff and students. The school will receive free toothbrushes, toothbrush storage and toothpaste enabling the children will brush their teeth once a day at school. Each child has their own individual toothbrush which is stored in specially designed brush buses at the school.

The project, which is being funded by NHS Portsmouth and NHS Hampshire aims are to improve the oral health of the population by educating youngsters on oral health.

Portsmouth has some of the worst oral health in the country and children in the city have some of the highest number of decayed and missing teeth. The mean decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) index for Portsmouth is 1.78 compared to the average in England of 1.45.

The University’s Clinical Director, John Weld, said: “The under fives are a particular group at risk of dental decay and it becomes even more likely for children from socially deprived backgrounds, half of whom have decay by school entry age and three quarters of which is untreated.

“It’s an opportunity for youngsters to experience what happens at the dentist, especially those who have never been to a dentist or who do not have a dentist to access dental services.

The scheme includes ongoing oral health support and an annual visit by a university dentist who will briefly check the children’s teeth. Although the scheme does not include a full check-up, the visit will identify possible tooth decay and give parents information on what to do next, providing them with information about local NHS dental services.

The Dental Academy’s Gemma Potts personally visited fifteen local schools to invite them to participate in the scheme. She said: “By targeting youngsters under five we hope to encourage a positive relationship with dental services from a young age and get children used to brushing their teeth.”

The children will receive brushing for life packs and other oral health resources to support families in managing oral health at home.

The project will target Reception year children to Year 2 who are aged four to five and is run in conjunction with the Education Liaison team who act as the link between the University and local schools and colleges.

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