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Free tooth-brushing packs for city schoolchildren

Published on Monday, December 12, 2016

CHILDREN at city primary schools will be getting free tooth-brushing packs as part of an ongoing campaign to improve oral health in Leicester.

Eight thousand ‘Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles!’ washbags are being given away to children aged three to five, in nursery and reception classes, starting this month (Dec).

The washbags contain a toothbrush and toothpaste, oral health information, toothbrushing charts and storybooks. There is also advice and guidance on how to brush teeth correctly.

The idea is to ensure that under-fives get regular access to free toothbrushes and toothpaste. This latest stage in the campaign is in addition to free oral health packs already given out to children by health visitors – at four months, one and two years of age.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Rory Palmer, who leads on health integration, said: “We’ve seen an eight per cent reduction in tooth decay from 2011/12 to 2014/15. There has also been a significant improvement in the proportion of five-year-olds that are decay-free, going up from 47% to 55% in the same period.

“These are very good results, and indicate that our campaign is working – but we’re not complacent. Tooth decay is totally avoidable and unnecessary, and it’s still part of too many children’s lives.  

“By ensuring all young children in the city have regular access to a new toothbrush and toothpaste, we’re helping families to get into good habits early on – habits that will hopefully last for life.”

Peter Fowler, headteacher of Granby Primary School, in Aylestone, said: “We are delighted that our school is part of the council’s supervised tooth-brushing scheme. This means that younger children brush their teeth in school every day as part of the Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles programme, which we are extending into year 1. These packs which the children take home help reinforce the message that oral health is really important”.  

Amanda Blaylock, early years lead at the Tudor Grange Samworth Academy, added: “The packs are fantastic, they have lots of information for parents and these resources will encourage the children to brush their teeth at home and at school”.

Over a 12-month period, it is expected that 30,000 children will benefit from a free oral health pack.

The Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles campaign features a wide range of initiatives, including free supervised tooth-brushing sessions in nurseries and a bottle swap programme, where parents can swap baby bottles for a free-flow cup, which is better for oral health development.

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