Continuing to Improve Oral Health for Children in Cornwall

Stephanie Hoenig, July 27, 2021

We’re pleased to announce we will continue to work in partnership with Brighter Smiles to bring better oral health education and care to children at Landewednack and Grade Ruan schools and nurseries.

Recognising a difficulty in accessing NHS dental care in Cornwall coupled with parents themselves not regularly visiting the dentist or taking their children, the Brighter Smiles prevention programme promotes the importance of oral health care and adopting good oral hygiene practices - an initiative ITEC are proud to support.

 

Brighter Smiles TeamOur Cornwall office team supporting Brighter Smiles. 

The impact of Covid-19 on dental health care

Before the pandemic, Brighter Smiles and ITEC were successfully working in partnership to address the oral health care issues for children in Cornwall and often exceeded our performance and social impact targets.

Prior to the pandemic, 4,454 Cornish children were regularly engaging in the Brighter Smiles oral health programme of toothbrushing clubs, Fluoride Varnishing Application and oral health education. ITEC supported the delivery of the programme in Landewednack and Grade Ruan schools and nurseries which supplied oral health family packs for every pupil.

Each oral health family pack included toothbrushes, toothpaste, a 2-minute timer, a toothbrushing chart, top tips for oral health care and a wealth of other educational resources. Uptake of the daily toothbrushing clubs was good among nursery and reception pupils and the children were excited to take part.

Lockdowns and a shift in provision of patient care meant Brighter Smiles' delivery of face-to-face support in schools, nurseries and family hubs had to pause. But the team continued to support the oral health of local children and communities through virtual oral education sessions, a short animation and thousands of donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste and oral health education packs.

In March 2020, MP Derek Thomas stated during a debate on health inequalities in the UK that 40% of children in Cornwall had not seen a dentist in the last year, a figure that has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020/21.

 

Resuming support for the Brighter Smiles programme

Public Health England has now given the go ahead to resume the delivery of the Brighter Smiles programme in educational environments. The partnership will restart at the beginning of the new academic year in September 2021, when school communities are able to welcome the Brighter Smiles team back to deliver face-to-face support.

With our support, Brighter Smiles will also be able to resume their Fluoride Varnish Application programme, which has been on pause since the start of the pandemic. During the next academic year, Brighter Smiles will offer Fluoride Varnish Application to all year one pupils along with the children who have missed out over the past year due to the pandemic.

As the programme gets back on track after Covid, we look forward to supporting school and nursery aged children in Cornwall to access the oral health care education they need to help them improve their oral hygiene.

For more information about the Brighter Smiles programme and to see how they are making a difference to the oral health of children please visit brightersmiles.org.uk.

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