Slough children will be encouraged to take care of their oral health during this National Smile Month in June. Organised by the Oral Health Foundation with the aim of helping to improve the oral health of those living in the UK, the campaign has been running successfully for more than 40 years. During this month schools, community groups, dental practices and organisations will be playing their part by organising special events and promotions to spread the word about the importance of establishing good oral habits.
In Slough, there are more children with teeth that are affected by decay, on average, than in any other local authority in the South east, and one of the highest in England. The most recent data (2016/2017) tells us that 41.5% of Slough children have one or more decayed, missing or filled teeth, compared to 23.3% in England and 16.4% in the South East.
With these statistics on the rise in young children, Slough children’s centres have joined in the campaign, by organising healthy eating sessions, playdough teeth modelling, workshops and information sessions for parents, dental visits to the centres, as well as walks with children and their parents to a local dental practice. The aim of the dental visits is to help allay any fears parents (and children) may have, and help them to register their family with a practice.
During this month our children’s centres will be working with children and their parents and helping them make the necessary changes needed in these key areas:
• understanding the importance of good oral health
• helping them to establish healthy eating habits, and advise on how this links to oral health
• advising on oral hygiene and how to integrate a daily routine of tooth brushing
• encouraging regular dental check-ups, and helping re-iterate the importance of this from an early age.
Cllr Natasa Pantelic, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We are aware that currently Slough has many more children than we would like with tooth decay, tooth loss, and poor oral hygiene. Our children’s centres are working hard along with local dentists to help children understand the importance of teeth brushing from an early age, and help parents understand good diet choices with low sugar content that will help promote good oral health.
“If we educate our children now then we can drastically reduce the amount of children suffering with poor oral health in the borough, and set them up for life with good brushing skills, and great oral health.”
The oral health promotion work in Slough has been closely aligned to the work of our behaviour change programme “Active Movement”. This programme, being delivered in most primary schools co-ordinates the holistic child centred approach to well-being. This service has been expanded to include all 10 Slough children’s centres. 22% of children start primary school overweight or obese in Slough, rising to 41% when they leave primary school. Intervention in early years is vital to support long term healthy behaviour. The link between the oral health promotion and Active Movement is one of the ways we are helping shape children’s behaviour.