A major private sector-backed campaign to prevent tooth decay in Guernsey’s children begins today (Monday).
Pre-schools and nurseries are working in partnership with the Children’s Dental Service following a pilot of the Guernsey SuperSmiles programme which began in 2014 with funding from the Insurance Corporation Healthcare Bursary.
It comes as new figures show nearly 500 cases of tooth decay in the past five years were so bad that children needed a general anaesthetic while they underwent treatment. That’s in addition to nearly 10,000 extractions and fillings over the same period.
Sarah Lyle, Head of the Children’s Dental Service, said: “We developed a supervised tooth brushing programme using fluoride toothpaste and trialled it in some of our pre-schools during 2014 and 2015. Tooth decay, if left untreated, can lead to pain, infection, absence from school, difficulty eating, broken sleep and low self-esteem.”
“Research tells us that brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay and the evidence from our trial, although it only involved small numbers, certainly proved to be positive. At the end of the trial period in March 2015 the percentage of children who experienced dental decay in their teeth had improved from 26% to 17%.”
The programme’s seen the total number of children learning good oral hygiene increase from 48% to 72%. Nine pre-schools are taking part in the next phase of the SuperSmiles programme with sponsorship from Rotary Guernesiais, the General Dental Association, the Victoria Hospital Fund and the Little Extras Fund.
Sarah said: “I must thank our Oral Health Educator, Helen Long and Dentist, Abby Heslop for leading this programme but we would really like to extend it to more of our pre-schools and nurseries if possible but we would need a sponsor to help us do that.”
The programme costs include bus-shaped holders for toothbrushes, stickers, toothpaste, gloves and wipes as well as guidance on how to brush teeth properly.