13 Oct 2012

Kids polish up on how to clean their teeth

Published on Friday 12 October 2012 15:53 CHILDREN across Portsmouth are getting their teeth strengthened – thanks to a fluoride varnish. The scheme, which is being run by the University of Portsmouth’s Dental Academy, is aimed at schoolchildren aged four and five. Primary care trust NHS Portsmouth has commissioned the academy to go into schools to improve oral hygiene in the city. The banana-flavoured varnish is applied to the child’s teeth using a microbrush. The sticky varnish, which is 0.25ml, is brushed into the teeth and left to soak in. John Weld, clinical director at the academy, said: ‘We want to improve dental care and prevent dental decay in Portsmouth. ‘The reason why we are targeting four to five year olds is because between the ages of three and five, decay can hit teeth pretty badly. ‘Last year we started supervised brushing to take home the message that you need to brush your teeth. ‘The next step was to do a dental screen and look at the health of the mouth. ‘Now we are implementing the fluoride varnish that is absorbed by the enamel coating on teeth. This makes it resistant to decay. ‘It’s Department of Health policy that children should have at least two applications, and four for high risk.’ The programme is voluntary and up to parents if they would like to put children forward. The academy said there was 90 per cent agreement to the supervised brushing, and around 80 per cent have agreed to the varnish. Each week the academy goes into a different primary school in Portsmouth to apply the varnish. Staff also talk about the importance of brushing teeth and having a healthy mouth. One of the schools that took part was Meredith Infants School, in Portchester Road, North End. Around 20 pupils had the varnish put on. Oakley Lancett, five, said: ‘The lady put the stuff on my teeth and it was very sticky and tasted like banana. ‘I brush my teeth, but sometimes I forget. I need to look after my teeth so I can eat and have a nice smile.’ Deputy headteacher Lucy Carroll said: ‘We’re delighted to be part of the initiative with the university. ‘We all know the life-long affect on children, who have poor dental hygiene, so we are very positive about the impact it will have on children’s general health and wellbeing. ‘The children brush daily and we hope to continue strong links with the Dental Academy.’

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