CMO Wales calls for more fluoride

In his annual report the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, has called for more direct and also more innovative methods of delivering preventive care if advances in child oral health are to be made. He said: ‘In Wales we need to get more teeth in contact with fluoride via alternative methods.’

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The CMO’s annual report for 2010 has a short section on oral health. It finds that Wales is now ranked third (of three) when average decayed, missing, filled teeth is compared across the constituent countries of Great Britain. In 2005/06, for the first time since the surveys, the average dmft for Wales was statistically significantly higher than Scotland.

Children living in deprived areas are more likely to experience decay and are likely to have more teeth affected than less deprived peers. So while half of the five year old children across Wales have no decayed teeth, the other half have on average four teeth decayed, filled or extracted.

There is some evidence suggesting that improvements in whole population mean dmft scores may mask reductions of mean decay levels among less deprived children and an unchanged position for more deprived children.

Central to the proposed National Oral Health Action Plan is the continuation of a Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme. This includes a number of initiatives as part of the Designed to Smile Programme.

This programme was launched in 2009, and has now been cascaded to all partsof Wales. At the present time over 61,000 children from 920 schools and nurseries in the most deprived parts of Wales are participating.

The Designed to Smile Programme sets out to target young children in areas of greatest need. The Designed to Smile Programme has two prevention elements, one for nursery/primary school children and the other for children from birth to three years.

  • The Programme for children from birth to three years includes work with health visitors and a wide range of professionals that work with young children.
  • The Programme for nursery/primary school children involves the delivery of tooth brushing and fluoride varnish programmes for children aged three to fi ve helping establish good habits early on.
  • Children aged 6-11 receive a Fissure Sealant Programme as well as preventive advice on how to look after their oral health.

The report concludes by saying that Designed to Smile helps to get fluoride in contact with developing teeth and instils good tooth brushing habits. Roll-out across Wales continues and the Programme impact is being evaluated.

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