Toddlers are to be taught how to brush their teeth properly as part of a £12,000 project being rolled out in nursery schools across Blackpool.
It is hoped the scheme will improve the dental health of thousands of children in the town. Figures show nearly one in five three-year-olds in Blackpool suffers from tooth decay.
Blackpool Better Start is launching a programme of supervised tooth brushing this month in nursery and child minder settings.
Merle Davies, director of the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development, said: “We expect this scheme will reach approximately 3,000 children in Blackpool and will help instil effective brushing habits for life.
“Improving diet and nutrition is a primary outcome for the Better Start partnership and this scheme targeting oral health is just one element of an overarching campaign to improve health for children aged nought to five in Blackpool.
“Research demonstrates that children brushing their teeth at least once a day with a fluoride toothpaste can have a significant effect on reducing the risk of dental decay.”
Children in Blackpool suffer from poor oral health compared to the rest of the country.
In 2013, 17 per cent of three-year-olds and 40 per cent of five-year old children in the town were found to have dental decay, which is 30 per cent higher than the national average.
Tooth extractions for children under 10 are four times the national average, and every year around 400 children are sent to hospital to have rotten teeth taken out.
Thames Children’s Centre Nursery on Severn Road, South Shore, introduced supervised tooth brushing two years ago as a pilot scheme.
Jo Smith, who has led the project, said: “The benefits we have seen since starting supervised tooth brushing have been outstanding.
“We feel it has reduced dental emergencies amongst our children, raised awareness of the importance of tooth brushing and helped to make a positive cultural change within our community.
“Our children thoroughly enjoy this being part of their daily routine at nursery and it promotes independence, health and self-help skills.”
Blackpool Council has offered fluoridated milk to all primary school children in year one and above since November last year as another way of helping improve dental health.
Blackpool Better Start will supply nurseries and child minders with training and equipment for supervised tooth brushing.
It will be investing over £12,000 annually to help develop oral health skills in children aged two to four.
The training will include how to brush correctly and how to make it a fun activity, for example brushing in a circle time format while singing tooth brushing songs.
The NSPCC-led Better Start project received £45m of Lottery funding in 2014 to break the cycle of poverty in pre-school children.