A scheme run by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which helps young children to maintain good dental hygiene has been commended following a research project into its success by Leeds Beckett University.
The toothbrushing in schools programme is delivered by the Trust’s oral health improvement team in Calderdale and helps children aged 3 – 5 in schools and children’s centres learn how to brush their teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
The oral health improvement team also deliver training to staff as part of the programme and give the groups the necessary toothbrushes and toothpaste to enable everyone to take part. Thirty-three schools and children’s centres now take part in the programme, which has been running for eight years across Halifax, Todmorden, Elland and Brighouse.
To evaluate the impact and success of the programme, the Trust asked Leeds Beckett University to carry out a research investigation. The University’s research, which involved questionnaires, focus groups and case studies, found that the children enjoyed taking part in the scheme and had increased their knowledge of the benefits of brushing their teeth.
It also reported that staff had found the programme to be an ‘integral and enjoyable’ part of their school day. Dr James Woodall, Co-Director of the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett, said: “Our evaluation of the scheme suggests that integrating toothbrushing within the school day is feasible and has the potential to contribute to reducing health inequalities across the region.”
Kath Halstead, health improvement specialist at the Trust, said: “The toothbrushing in schools programme has been a huge success in terms of helping children to learn a life skill and improving their dental health. We’ve found that children who were reluctant to brush their teeth at home are now really enthusiastic and can’t wait to take part in this important daily activity.”
Lesley Bowyer, headteacher at The Halifax Academy Primary, said: “We’re really pleased to incorporate the toothbrushing in schools programme into our school day. Our children really enjoy it and it’s great that it helps them to maintain good dental health along with the toothbrushing they already do at home.”
The oral health improvement team is part of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s health improvement service in Calderdale, which provides free advice and support on a number of lifestyle issues such as weight management, stopping smoking, and sexual health.