What is CHILDSMILE?
CHILDSMILE is a national programme designed to improve the oral health of children in nonfluoridated Scotland and reduce inequalities both in dental health and access to dental services.
The CHILDSMILE Programme is available throughout Scotland.
Every child receives:
- a Dental Pack containing a toothbrush, tube of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste and an information leaflet on at least six occasions by the age of five.
- a free-flow feeder cup by one year of age
- children in nurseries and schools are offered healthy snacks and drinks
- free, daily, supervised tooth brushing in nursery and junior schools
Both parents and children receive education on healthy eating.
How does it compare to New Zealand?
Scottish kids used to have worse teeth than Kiwi kids. But today far more Scottish kids do not have any dental decay and, those that do, have less fillings. They have also reduced the number of children needing General Anaesthetics surgeries for severe dental decay. They have done this without any fluoridation AND they have saved money.
One of the biggest differences is that all children are offered supervised tooth brushing in pre-schools and primary school classes. Research indicates that tooth brushing is one of the most important factors in reducing dental decay.
Do other countries have similar programmes?
A number of other countries have adopted similar programmes to the CHILDSMILE programme. Wales has implemented Designed to Smile which is very similar to CHILDSMILE. Japan and Thailand have also implemented tooth brushing programmes.
Does New Zealand have any programmes like CHILDSMILE?
In 2016 dental student, Ellen Clark, undertook a research project “Supervised tooth brushing in Northland” as her thesis for her Masters degree in Community Dentistry. She concluded ” The findings show improved caries outcomes at one year for children involved in a supervised tooth brushing programme; it is the first New Zealand study to show this. It is also the first study in the world to show that an overall improvement in oral health can occur in children who take part in a supervised tooth brushing programme. This reinforces the need for policy to consider other approaches to improve children’s oral health in communities that experience high caries and poor oral health.”
Another way to combat tooth decay is for schools to adopt “no junk food” policies. This not only reduces dental decay, but improves overall health.
Stuff article 8th March 2018 What happened when two Decline One primary schools ditched junk food?