A scheme run by the Trust which helps young children to maintain good dental hygiene has been praised by Leeds Beckett University for its success.
The toothbrushing in schools programme, which is delivered by the Trust’s oral health improvement team in Calderdale, helps children aged 3-5 in schools and children’s centres learn how to brush their teeth to reduce 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 take part in the programme, which has been running for eight years across Halifax, Todmorden, Elland and Brighouse.
To evaluate the 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.
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 team also submitted a paper on the toothbrushing in schools programme to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which publishes guidelines around health, as an example of shared learning.
NICE found the paper to be a great example of oral health improvement and published it in their Local Practice Collection and alongside the new NICE guidance for promoting oral health. The paper can be viewed on the NICE website.
As a result of this, the team’s example will automatically be entered for consideration in NICE’s annual Shared Learning Awards which take place each year at NICE’s conference. The awards provide an opportunity to showcase work to peers in the health and social care community. The team will find out whether they have been shortlisted in Spring 2015.
To further improve the dental health of children in Calderdale, the team have also designed an innovative book called ‘I Want to Show the Dentist my Teeth’. The book tells the story of young Gracie making her first trip to the dentist alongside bright and colourful illustrations by health improvement practitioner Sally Baker.
The book uses positive language to encourage young children to visit the dentist and helps to reduce any fears they may have about their routine check-ups.