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St Helens children's dental health improving - says report
9:00am Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
FIVE year olds in St Helens have better teeth than average according to new figures.
In its survey of oral health of that age group Public Health England reported improvements across the country but St Helens has seen bigger advancements than many areas.
Within the borough the average number of teeth affected by dental disease is down by more than a quarter from an average of 1.5 teeth affected in 2008 to 1.1 teeth affected in 2013.
This compares with a drop of 15 per cent across both the North West and England with St Helens lower than the North West average.
The borough has also seen a significant fall in the proportion of children with active dental disease - down from 36 per cent in 2008 to 30 per cent in 2012. This is still higher than the average for England of 25 per cent - but is an encouraging trend, say health leaders.
It is believed reasons for the change include increased fluoride content in children’s toothpaste.
Other factors could be a dental milk scheme which saw almost 5,000 St Helens children aged four to seven years drinking milk with fluoride added, supervised tooth brushing in pre-school nurseries, dentists strengthening children’s teeth with fluoride varnish and weaning advice from health visitors and nursery children being encouraged to have a healthy diet.
St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald said: “These are encouraging figures – and show that our approach is working.
“But we still have some way to go. Nearly one in three children is still affected by dental issues – impacting on families and children who have to take time off school to visit the dentist.”
Director of Public Health Liz Gaulton added: “We’ve reviewed our oral health promotion services and are looking to make further improvements.
“We plan to extend the popular fluoride milk and toothbrushing programmes to all schools and nurseries who want to take part.
"Giving children the best start in life is a priority for both the council and the Health and Wellbeing Board.”
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