Page last updated at 05:50 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 06:50 UK

Free toothbrush scheme expanded

Toothbrush
As part of the programme mobile dental units visit targeted schools

A scheme that sees young children in some of the poorest parts of Wales given free toothpaste and brushes along with dental tips is being expanded.

Six and seven-year-olds along with nursery children in Communities First areas will now be included.

The Designed to Smile pilot programme had targeted three to five-year-olds.

Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart said funding would double to £3.1m next year as the dental health of children was poor compared to the rest of the UK.

Two "super pilot" schemes have been running in north and south Wales.

Dental health support workers oversee a supervised tooth-brushing programme in schools and provide toothbrushes and toothpaste to school children along with oral health advice.

Part of this service is delivered via mobile dental health units that provide specialist preventive care and treatment to schools.

As well as rolling out the scheme beyond the existing pilot areas to targeted, Communities First schools in the rest of Wales, the additional funding also extends the age range.

Ms Hart said: "The rates of tooth decay in parts of Wales are too high and something that needs to be tackled.

'Pain and suffering'

"This additional funding for the Designed to Smile scheme will carry on and enhance the good work done in the pilot areas and extend it across the whole of Wales.

"There is a significant role for parents to play, but we know that for many children at greatest risk of dental decay, cleaning their teeth or having their teeth cleaned does not form part of their daily routine."

The minister is making the announcement on a visit to the Pheonix Centre at Townhill in Swansea.

Dr Hugh Bennett, consultant in dental public health at the National Public Health Service said: "Compared to the rest of the UK, some areas of Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot have very high levels of dental decay in children with resultant pain and suffering and high treatment needs.

"This boost to 'Designed to Smile' is an invaluable opportunity to encourage parents and children to maintain good dental health habits."



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SEE ALSO
Mobile dental help for children
30 Jan 09 |  Wales
Pupils to get free toothbrushes
14 Mar 08 |  Wales

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