A CHALLENGE to count the Rutland Dinosaur’s teeth, some top tips on dental health from Welford, the Leicester Tigers’ furry mascot, and a mass tooth-brushing event have all been helping to remind children in Leicester to look after their teeth.
Leicester City Council has been supporting this year’s National Smile Month – which ends on Thursday (17 June) – with a digital campaign and a downloadable activity pack that aim to improve the oral health of children in the city.
Inspired by the Richard III Visitor Centre and the city’s museums, and supported by partners at Leicester City Football Club, the Leicester Tigers, the Leicester Riders, Leicester Ladies’ Hockey Club and Leicestershire County Cricket Club, the council’s online campaign uses fun facts about teeth and dental health to help get the serious message across to youngsters.
With tooth decay affecting nearly 40% of five-year-olds in Leicester, the city council’s public health team is keen to remind people that good oral health needs to start from a very young age.
Rob Howard, consultant in public health, said: “Tooth decay is preventable, and that’s why it’s so important that people adopt good oral hygiene habits early in life.
“Brush your child’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears, take your child to the dentist before they’re one, and limit sugary snacks and drinks to mealtimes only. To prevent tooth decay, all of us should eat a healthy diet and visit a dentist regularly. And we all need to brush our teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste – and of course that’s every day, not just in National Smile Month.”
The city council’s own oral health initiative – Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles – has been addressing the problem of tooth decay in children for a number of years.
It provides practical assistance to families, including free toothbrushes and toothpaste for children under five, free baby bottle swaps, and supervised tooth-brushing sessions in its early years’ settings.
Assistant city mayor Cllr Vi Dempster, who leads on public health, said: “Our oral health campaigns focus on giving people common sense advice about tooth-brushing and helping parents to get into good habits with their children.
“If brushing your teeth and visiting a dentist are things that you do as a child, you’re much more likely to continue looking after your oral health as an adult.
“National Smile Month is a chance to remind people of the importance of effective tooth-brushing and we’re pleased to lend our support to this national campaign.”
National Smile Month is organised each year by the Oral Health Foundation and continues until Thursday (17 June).
A list of accredited family-friendly dentists in Leicester can also be found on the website.