Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Mobile dental help for children


Dinah Channing, dental health manager for Cardiff and the Vale NHS Trust, explains why it is important to teach young children good dental health habits

A fleet of mobile dental units aims to visit 300 schools over the next three years in a bid to improve dental health in Welsh children.

The assembly government's Designed to Smile project had been run on a limited basis but it will now be rolled out in super pilots in north and south Wales.

Toothpaste, toothbrushes and advice will be given out during the scheme.

Ministers want to improve statistics which show 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.

Children in nursery, reception and year one classes in schools across areas of greatest oral health need will be visited by the dental fleet, which will be manned by support workers.

Rates of tooth decay are far too high in Wales given that it is almost a preventable disease
First Minister Rhodri Morgan

First Minister Rhodri Morgan will unveil the new fleet on Friday at the University Hospital of Wales dental school in Cardiff before opening the new facilities at the postgraduate school of dentistry.

He 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.

"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, who announced the scheme last year, said the programme would would be run jointly by the community dental services of North Wales NHS Trust and Cardiff and the Vale NHS Trust.

Both services have taken on new staff to implement the programme, she said.

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