Tackling Tooth Decay In Children

11th January 2018

Preschools and nurseries in Guernsey are working with the Children’s Dental Service to help prevent tooth decay.

The Guernsey SuperSmiles and programme has been extended after a successful pilot in 2014, funded thanks to the Insurance Corporation Healthcare Bursary.

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Image taken from gov.gg website

 We are told the Children’s Dental Service has undertaken around 450 general anaesthetics for children with the most severe levels of dental decay, over the last 5 years. This is in addition to completing around 9,600 extractions or fillings.

At the end of the trial period in March 2015, the percentage of children who experienced tooth decay had improved from 26% to 17%. There was also evidence of a significant reduction in the number of children with untreated dental decay. Before the trial, the percentage of teeth treated was 48%, but after the trial the percentage rose to 72%.

There are 9 pre-schools taking part in the next stage of the SuperSmiles programme, thanks to sponsorship from Rotary Guernesiais, the General Dental Association, the Victoria Hospital Fund and the Little Extras Fund.

The costs of the programme include bus-shaped toothbrush holders, stickers, toothpaste, gloves and wipes, as well as guidance on how to brush teeth correctly.

Head of the Children’s Dental Service, Sarah Lyle, says:

‘Tooth decay, if left untreated, can lead to pain, infection, absence from school, difficulty eating, broken sleep and low self-esteem. The practicalities of getting children through the treatment can be a challenge not only for the child but also for the families. In some cases the child may need a general anaesthetic for the completion of their treatment.

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.

I must thank our Oral Health Educator, Helen Long, and Dentist, Abby Heslop, for leading this programme. 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.’ 

Early Years Lead for Education Services, Ruth Sharp, says:

‘If we can teach our pre-school children and their parents the importance and value of good tooth brushing at an early age, then this really can have a positive impact on their dental health for the rest of their lives. 

At the moment we are working with pre-schools who have volunteered to be part of the scheme, but we believe all our children deserve to have healthy teeth and a happy smile, and so would love to offer the SuperSmiles programme to more of our three and four year olds. Any potential sponsors are welcome to contact me or the Children’s Dental Service to offer their support. We are only looking for around £5,000, which seems such a small amount for the positive impact we know the programme can have.’

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