New scheme aims to cut tooth rot in Blackpool youngsters

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff is backing the campaign to improve dental health among young children in Blackpool
Dr Rebecca Wagstaff is backing the campaign to improve dental health among young children in Blackpool

A pilot scheme aims to cut rates of tooth decay among Blackpool’s youngsters.

The resort is one of 13 areas selected by Public Health England to receive extra help to improve dental health.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, deputy director health and wellbeing for PHE North West

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, deputy director health and wellbeing for PHE North West

The aim is to persuade the parents of hundreds of under-fives who have never seen a dentist, to attend regular check-ups.

Blackpool and the other towns picked have been deemed ‘high risk’ areas for tooth decay in early childhood.

Plans for the programme dubbed Starting Well include:

• Community dental teams to visit children’s centres to set up tooth brushing clubs.

In the North West, higher levels of deprivation, child poverty and inequality have a significant impact on children’s dental health.

• Toothbrushes and flouride toothpaste packs will be given to children at risk of tooth decay.

• Dentists will hold open days throughout the year to increase the number of under-fives attending check-ups.

Health minister Steve Brine said: “It is only by working closely with the dental profession to promote outreach schemes, that we can ultimately reduce the number of children suffering the potentially catastrophic effects of tooth decay.”

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, deputy director of Public Health England, said: “Oral health is improving but too many children still experience pain, discomfort and days off school due to dental decay – particularly in deprived areas.

“In the North West, higher levels of deprivation, child poverty and inequality have a significant impact on children’s dental health.

“Targeted programmes like Starting Well will help dental teams reach those families that need them and help improve our children’s oral health and give them the best start in life.”

The other areas selected are Blackburn with Darwen, Oldham, Rochdale, Bolton, Salford, Ealing, Slough, Hull, Wakefield, Leicester, Luton and Middlesbrough.

Claire Stevens, president of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, added: “We hope that ultimately the learning points from Starting Well will be rolled out into all areas of the UK.”

In 2013 it was announced that special milk containing flouride was to be introduced into Blackpool schools in a bid to cut tooth decay.

However, it is believed more than a quarter of children under five suffer from tooth decay.

In 2016, only a third of children of that age had visited a dentist and 26,000 were admitted to hospital with rotten teeth – the most common reason for hospital admission in under-nines.