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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Brushing campaign launched
child brushing teeth
The government is trying to boost child dental health
Ministers have launched a 1m scheme to try to reduce the toll of tooth decay in some of England's poorest districts.

The "Brushing for Life" scheme will involve free toothbrushes and toothpaste for parents and carers of young children, as well as demonstrations of correct technique.

The campaign is aimed at the 21 health authorities which have the highest levels of dental decay among children living there.

In some deprived areas, children can experience three times the amount of dental decay compared to children from more affluent areas

Hazel Blears, health minister
Workers will tour playgroups and nurseries to try to catch children before decay has had a chance to set in.

The government's own dental strategy wants to make sure that, by 2003, five-year-old children should have on average no more than one decayed, missing, or filled tooth.

Ministers also expect that 70% of children should have no tooth decay at all by this age.

Deprived teeth

Health minister Hazel Blears said on Thursday: "Research shows that in some deprived areas, children can experience three times the amount of dental decay compared to children from more affluent areas.

"This is unacceptable when both dental decay and gum disease are avoidable simply by encouraging young children to develop the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

"Good oral health early on in life is essential to prevent difficulties later on in life."

The scheme, covering 11 health authorities in the north west of England, and five each in Yorkshire and London, will last three years, and expects to reach 350,000 children a year.

A spokesman for the British Dental Association said: "Historically, children living in these areas have experienced worse forms of dental disease than those living in more affluent areas. As such, the scheme represents a very positive move."

See also:

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