Levels of tooth decay among primary one pupils in Scotland are falling, according to new figures.
Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald announced the results of a National Dental Inspection Programme on a visit to a school in Alloa, Clackmannanshire.
However, the British Dental Association has warned that more must be done to ensure people have access to NHS dentistry services.
The figures showed that 54% of Primary One pupils had no sign of tooth decay.
That is the best level since monitoring began in 1987.
It compared with 51% in 2004, and 45% in 2003.
The figures also showed that the average number of filled, missing or decayed teeth is 2.16 per primary one youngster, compared with 2.36 in 2004 and 2.76 in 2003.
The executive said the statistics were proof that tooth brushing schemes and education programmes in Scotland’s nurseries and primary schools were working.
Ministers have set a target of 60% which they hope can be achieved by 2010.
But the number of children and adults registered with an NHS dentist is continuing to decline.
The executive said it was tackling the problem and has recruited more than 200 dentists in the last two years.
The nursery class at St John’s Primary, Alloa, visited by Mr Macdonald, offers daily supervised brushing, with fluoride toothpaste, from the age of three.
And NHS Forth Valley reported the best results of any health board, with 68% of primary one children’s teeth showing no obvious signs of decay.
“I am really encouraged that children’s oral health is improving so rapidly,” Mr Macdonald said.
“These figures are the best since reporting began in 1987 and show continuous improvement since 1996.
“It is through projects like tooth brushing schemes we have introduced that we are really beginning to make a difference to children’s oral health.”
He said more than 100,000 children across Scotland take part in a daily toothbrushing scheme at nursery and primary school and that the executive was planning to roll the scheme out to more schools.
“I recognise that historically Scotland has had a poor oral health record but I firmly believe that today’s figures are a sign that things are moving in the right direction and we are helping keep our children’s smiles free from decay,” he added.