The Institute is delighted to be working with the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, England, and is proud to support the national Smile4Life campaign.

Good oral health contributes to giving every child the best start in life and is closely associated with good general health, nutrition and development, and oral health promotion is a core element within the Healthy Child Programme.

 

 

 

 

 

Photography by Roger Moody. With kind permission from BSPD.

Photography by Roger Moody. With kind permission from BSPD.

Children’s oral health is a huge public health priority for all UK nations. Many of you may have already seen on social media the “jar of teeth” image. The photo is genuine and was taken by British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) President Claire Stevens who routinely extracts the teeth of children as young as two. It is a stark reminder of the reality of poor oral health for children, with the associated chronic pain which affects a child’s ability to learn, thrive and develop.

Dental attendance is crucial in identifying poor oral health in children as soon as possible, yet according to NHS Digital for the year 2016/17 the access rate to dental care by children in England under the age of 2 years was 11.6% and under 5 years was just 33%. September 2017 saw the introduction of new national guidance in England for a “Dental Check by One” (DCby1) or dental visit by a child’s first birthday to mark the start of lifelong dental care and support a smile for life. We would hope DCby1 is now rolling out across your areas and starting to improve the previous reported access to dental care issues for families.

We are publishing the attached article How health visitors can help to give every child a smile for life and will promote a suite of additional oral health resources via our social media feeds over the next couple of weeks so do follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

The aim of this is to help you to consider what it is that you do to promote good oral health for children. This article and the tweets and posts will contain many interesting resources and links to refresh your oral health evidence base. Please take some time to review these as we know from survey evidence that up-to-date knowledge is closely linked with confidence in discussing oral health with parents, and so this will further endorse your early intervention approach with families and prevention of childhood tooth decay.

Don’t forget to also share information with your early years and health and social care colleagues.

NHS England is calling on dentists to see an additional 70,000 pre-school children as part of a drive in the health service’s 70th year, to help young families to get into the habit of good dental health.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, commented: “The Institute is delighted to hear of this initiative and calls on health visitors and their teams to alert parents to it.  Health visitors promote good oral hygiene and early visits to the dentist for infants on their caseloads.”

Latest data show that over 140 children per day, some just one year old, are having decayed teeth removed. These are now being tackled head on with a newly launched awareness programme supporting 24,000 dentists across England to see more children from a young age.

Good dental health habits can be formed by booking a baby’s first dental check by their first birthday, stopping the rot before it starts and preventing the need for future tooth extractions.

As part of the Starting Well Core programme, the Chief Dental Officer for England, Sara Hurley, is also encouraging parents and carers to take advantage of extra access opportunities at their local dental practice and obtaining free NHS dental care.

The Institute of Health Visiting is delighted to support the national launch of the Dental Check by One campaign by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) – a nationwide campaign to encourage parents and carers to take their child to the dentist before their first birthday.

The first visit to the dentist is an important opportunity for a child to start a life of positive dental care and for parents to get advice on how to keep their child’s teeth healthy and strong.

The iHV is one of several organisations across health care to support the campaign so that wherever parents go they are informed of the importance of getting their child to the dentist by the age of one.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director iHV said:

‘We are delighted to support this phenomenally important campaign.  The great sadness about the appalling statistics for children suffering dental caries is that this is a disease which is totally preventable with the right nutrition and early preventive advice from dentists.  Let’s make the UK the country with the lowest levels of dental caries in children and highest dental attendance.’

Key points:

  1. Children need to see dentist when first teeth appear – or by one at latest
  2. Organisations across healthcare pledge their support
  3. Access to a dentist for under 2s vastly better in North than South of England
  4. Office of the Chief Dental Officer for England supports Dental Check by One