Oral health improvement workers in Barnsley have held the first Oral Health Action Team meeting as part of a pilot scheme designed to tackle poor dental hygiene in children under 5 living in the Barnsley region.
Dental health in Barnsley continues to cause concern with 58% of five year olds having experienced dental decay compared with the national average of 40%. Figures also show that in areas of deprivation five year olds are four times more likely to suffer decay than other areas.
Work raising awareness around the importance of dental hygiene is particularly important in this region as there is a low dental service attendance in many areas and children are at further risk of decay in Barnsley due to lack of fluoride in drinking water.
The Oral Health Action Team, which is working alongside community services provided by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is a steering group that brings together different agencies that come into contact with children, to help deliver specific oral health messages to help improve oral health care and hygiene.
The group, which is part of a pilot project that aims to target oral health inequalities in areas of need in Barnsley, hopes to encourage families to attend the dentist and promote awareness of fluoride varnish, which is a high concentration of fluoride found in toothpaste that is applied to teeth by a dentist.
The first meeting took place on Thursday 1st September and Grimethorpe representatives from schools, churches, the Acorn Learning Centre, health visitors, smoking cessation team and dentists have joined the action group to help improve dental hygiene in young people.
The meeting offered a taster as to what the team can do to improve dental hygiene in the area and support that is available to local community agencies. If successful it is hoped the pilot will be rolled out to other areas.
Jillian O’Brien works in the oral health improvement team, which is part of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has been commissioned by to work alongside Barnsley community dental services to deliver the work. Speaking about the work Jillian said, "Our team is on hand to help improve oral health in this region and make people aware of the importance of keeping their teeth clean. It is vital that we work in partnership with local groups such as school and community health visitors to ensure they can reinforce the message to children and their families. As well as leading the steering group we also offer specific training for other NHS staff who have direct links to our target audience."
To finds out more about Oral Health Action Team or the work of the Oral health improvement workers contact Jillian O’Brien on 01226 433101.