Guernsey's Children's Dental Service is working with the island's pre-schools and nurseries to help prevent tooth decay.
Called the Guernsey SuperSmiles programme, it has been extended following a successful pilot with the Island’s States supported pre-schools in 2014. The extended scheme has been funded thanks to the Insurance Corporation Healthcare Bursary.
The Head of the Children's Dental Service, Sarah Lyle, says the program was developed initially as a supervised tooth brushing programme, using fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, which can cause serious problems requiring much more invasive treatment for some children.
Mrs Lyle says the practicalities of getting children through a treatment course for tooth decay can be challenging for the child and their families, even requiring a general anaesthetic in some cases: "Over the last 5 years the Children’s Dental Service has undertaken around 450 general anaesthetics for children with the most severe levels of dental decay. This is in addition to completing approximately 9,600 extractions or fillings.
"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%. There was also evidence of a significant reduction in the amount of untreated dental decay; before the programme the percentage of teeth treated was 48% - that’s nearly 1 in 2; by March 2015 the percentage of teeth treated was 72% - nearly 3 in 4."
Nine pre-schools are taking part in the next phase of the SuperSmiles programme, but Ruth Sharp, the Early Years Lead for Education Services, says more can take part. The programme would need more financial backing to be extended further though: "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."
Existing sponsorship has come from Rotary Guernesiais, the General Dental Association, the Victoria Hospital Fund and the Little Extras Fund.
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