Mobile Dental Fleet To Brush Away Decay Of Child Dental Health

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The first national oral health improvement program aimed at young children in Wales is to be rolled out with the help of a fleet of mobile dental units, which launched by First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

Health Minister Edwina Hart announced the Designed to Smile/ Cynllun Gwen programme last year. The programme, which has already been run on a limited basis, will now be rolled out through two super pilots in North and South Wales.

The scheme will see a team of dental health support workers providing toothbrushes and toothpaste to school children along with oral health advice. Part of this service will be delivered via mobile dental health units that will play a key role in providing specialist preventive care and treatment to schools. Children in nursery, reception and year one classes in schools across areas of greatest oral health need will be visited by the dental fleet. Over 300 schools are expected to benefit from the scheme during their rollout over the next three years.

Welsh children have the worst rates of tooth decay in the UK. On average, a five year old in Wales has between two and three decayed, missing or filled teeth, compared to less than two in Great Britain as a whole.

The First Minister will unveil the new fleet at the University Hospital of Wales Dental School before opening the new facilities at the postgraduate school of dentistry.

The First Minister said: "Rates of tooth decay are far too high in Wales given that it is almost a preventable disease. This programme recognises that extra level of oral health problems we face in Wales.

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Through 'Designed to Smile' we hope to extend the provision of preventative care and treatment to children in Wales so that we can reduce the number of children with poor dental health to the UK average level and then to even lower levels."

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "This programme will help meet our One Wales commitment to provide a new public health focus on dentistry and ensure that children are given the tools skills they need to maintain good oral health."

The programme, which will be jointly run by the Community Dental Services of North Wales NHS Trust and Cardiff and the Vale NHS Trust, will also introduce the new child friendly logo of Dewi the Dragon that will be used as a brand for the entire programme, uniting both super pilots.

Both Community Dental Services in North and South Wales have taken on new staff to implement the preventative programme who will play an integral role in the success of the scheme.

Dr Menna Lloyd programme lead for Cardiff and the Vale NHS Trust said: "The Designed to Smile' programme is a very welcome Welsh Assembly Government development and will enable the Community Dental Service to really make a difference by reducing dental decay levels in children.

"We have now appointed the 'Designed to Smile' teams and they are already busily working in schools and with parent groups to get the message across that healthy teeth are important."

Dr Michelle Seager programme lead at North Wales NHS Trust said: "We are pleased to have been chosen by the Welsh Assembly Government to be one of the super pilot areas. Working alongside Cardiff and Vale Community Dental Service we have developed a brand image and some great resources to help make toothbrushing fun."

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