Fluoride Action Network

Manchester: Pupils ordered to brush teeth at school in a battle against tooth decay

Source: The Telegraph | October 30th, 2012 | By Lucy Kinder
Location: United Kingdom, England

Children at school will take a break from lessons everyday to clean their teeth with fluoride toothpaste under the supervision of teachers.

The pilot scheme, called Smile Time, will take place at schools in Greater Manchester and will be extended if it proves successful.

The town of Rochdale has been chosen for the project because it has one of the worst rates of tooth decay among children in Britain.

Sugary foods are being blamed as well as parents failing to encourage their children to brush their teeth at home.

Last month statistics revealed that nearly half of children under the age of 12 have tooth decay.

The research also uncovered the fact that more than one million British children under five have at least two fillings.

Earlier this year scientists in Sweden claimed that poor teeth brushing may be linked to an increased risk of cancer death.

The latest project to combat tooth decay in children is believed to be the first of its kind in England. It will be run by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale

Bosses hope it will have the same success as a project in Glasgow which saw a huge drop in the number of children with tooth decay.

Andrew Forrest, oral health manager at Pennine Care which is helping to manage the scheme, said:

“With support and supplies from our oral health specialists, school teachers will supervise children aged five to seven brushing their own teeth once during the school day.

“Teachers will be trained to ensure that only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste will be used for tooth brushing which is the recommended amount for primary school-aged children.

Simon Danczuk the MP for Rochdale is supporting the scheme. He said: “I welcome this pilot. It’s good to encourage children to clean their teeth on a regular basis.

“Children in the Rochdale borough have some of the highest rates of tooth decay in the country so we want to reverse this trend and ensure our children have happy, healthy smiles.”

But Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association warned that the scheme will not entirely solve the problem of childhood tooth decay which he says is often linked to deprivation:

“Sadly we have pockets of inequality, where you have people looking for a quick way of eating. Sometimes sweets are a simple, quick, easy way.

“Our regular message which we always try to get out is to cut sugar down to mealtimes”

“Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, helps certainly, but it doesn’t necessarily get all the bugs away that cause dental decay so you would really need to do the two things together. ”

“It’s down to education. With just a little bit more sense they can easily eat healthily for just about the same if not less”

He added that the cost of such a project means that it may not be feasible to roll it out across the country:

“It takes quite a bit of money to specifically target areas of inequality.

Targeting the whole population with one message is relatively easy but in this case you have to tailor the project to reach the children and schools which are most affected.”