Health Minister Lord Howe visited Chorley in Lancashire today, to launch the innovative Smile4Life programme, which promotes good oral health among pre-school children in the region.
Smile4Life sees Lancashire County Council join forces with NHS Central Lancashire, NHS North Lancashire and NHS East Lancashire, to combat the region’s poor record on tooth decay in children by educating pre-school children about the importance of looking after their teeth.
The programme involves members of the local NHS dental team visiting pre-schools across the county to provide advice to young children and their carers on tooth brushing, the importance of regular visits to the dentists, and encouraging a healthier diet.
After the official launch at the Woodland’s Centre in Chorley, Lord Howe paid a visit to Ribbleton Children’s Centre in Preston where he met with staff and children to see first hand how members of the local NHS dental team and nursery teachers work together to encourage better oral health in children.
Commenting on the Smile4Life programme, Lord Howe said:
“The NHS White Paper set out our commitment to improving the oral health of children and the Smile4Life programme is an excellent example of how the NHS can achieve this.
“Even though there have been improvements in children’s oral health, there is more that can and should be done to tackle persistent inequalities, especially in Lancashire, which suffers from some of the highest levels of children’s tooth decay in the country.
“Tooth decay in children is a serious problem. It can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort, and treating it is very costly for the NHS. Focusing on prevention is not only better for the children, but is also better use of NHS resources. I’m delighted to see the local authority and the NHS taking innovative action to address this very important local health issue, and I hope others will follow suit.”
Commenting on the Minister’s visit, County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, added:
"We are delighted that Lord Howe was able to come and visit and see the important work we’re doing to combat poor oral health. Smile4Life will not only improve our children's teeth but help to lay the foundations for good oral health throughout life. Running the campaign through nurseries and other child care settings enables us to reach large numbers of children and put those foundations in place from an early age."
Eric Rooney, Consultant in Dental Public Health for NHS Central Lancashire added:
“Poor oral health impacts on the quality of children’s lives and this programme has the potential to change that. We know that dental decay can be prevented by encouraging healthy eating and drinking and by the use of fluoride toothpaste. By working with the Council we can support children from an early age to have good teeth and a healthier lifestyle”.
Notes to Editors
1. For general media queries or to request an interview, please contact the Department of Health press office on 0207 210 5221
2. For media queries on the Smile4Life programme, please contact Liz Payne on 01772 644445
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept