Children from six nurseries will be taking part in a three-month supervised toothbrushing pilot project, starting today (Monday 11 September).
The initiative is being organised by the Department of Health and Social Care’s Public Health Directorate and is based on Scotland’s Childsmile programme.
Statistics held by Public Health indicate that around a quarter of five year olds on the Isle of Man have tooth decay.
Poor oral health can affect children both physically and psychologically. Children with severe decay commonly experience pain, discomfort, disfigurement, infection and disrupted sleep.
Alongside the physical effects, children with poor oral health are almost three times more likely to miss days from school due to dental pain, and risk falling behind in their learning.
What does the supervised toothbrushing programme involve?
• Each child is supplied with a toothbrush, to be kept at the nursery during the project.
• Every day they will be supervised brushing their teeth with their toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, which will be supplied.
• All participating nurseries will follow the Scottish National Standards for Toothbrushing.
• The toothbrushing project will be monitored to ensure a good level of service is provided.
The participating nurseries are: Crossroads in Victoria Avenue in Douglas; The Children’s Centre in Woodbourne Road in Douglas; and Hopes & Dreams’ four branches in Woodbourne Road in Douglas, The Buchan, Parklands in Ramsey and Ashley Hill Pre-School in Onchan.
Parents and guardians of all children invited to take part in each nursery will receive a letter explaining the programme, and be asked to complete a consent form.
Following evaluation, the pilot project is designed to lead to a wider programme being introduced across the Island next year involving child minders as well as nurseries.
Henrietta Ewart, Director of Public Health, said: ‘Good toothbrushing habits and general oral health remain important throughout our lives – and it’s vital that youngsters are shown the correct way to look after themselves at the earliest opportunity.
‘This pilot scheme aims to deliver an effective programme to reduce tooth decay in young people and cements government’s commitment to improving oral health following the announcement in this year’s Budget that a levy on soft drinks will be introduced from April 2018. ‘
For more detailed information about the toothbrushing programme and its standards, visit www.child-smile.org.
Photo – An example of the toothbrushes and rack which will be used during the pilot project in six Island nurseries.