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Better Start Brushing!

Better Start Bradford have launched their latest campaign to improve oral health in 0-4 years olds in Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton.

Bradford has the highest rates of childhood tooth decay in Yorkshire, with more than 1 in 3 five-year old children having evidence of decayed or filled teeth. Poor oral health is a marker of wider issues such as poor nutrition, obesity and health inequalities. This is highlighted by data showing that five-year old children in the more deprived ward of Bowling and Barkerend has 9 times higher levels of decay than children in affluent Ilkley.

Tooth decay causes pain which has a significant impact on eating, speaking and well-being. Treatment may require an operation under general anaesthetic, resulting in time lost from school and from work for parents. In 2017-18, 437 children in Bradford were admitted to hospital for removal of decayed teeth, half of whom were under five-years old. Evidence shows that children with decayed baby teeth are three times more likely to develop decay in their permanent teeth.

Better Start Bradford’s mission is to help improve the oral health of children in our area. As part of this we are launching an educational campaign aimed at families of 0-3 year old children. Our campaign is named ‘Better Start Brushing’, and our key messages are based around Public Health England’s evidence-based Change4Life ‘Top Tips for Teeth’ campaign as outlined below.

Sugar Surprise Game

We will be launching the campaign initially in five early-years settings in the Better Start Bradford area in September and October. We will be discussing key oral health messages with families of 0-3 year old children and have developed a simple game ‘Sugar Surprise Game!’ highlighting levels of sugar in everyday products. In addition, we will have fun activities for children including: a Play-doh dentist set, dress-up white dentist coats and a crocodile puppet to practice tooth-brushing technique.

We will be handing out free oral health packs to families, each of which will include a children’s toothbrush, toothpaste and a 2-minute timer as well as Change4Life resources. We have developed story sacks based on a children’s book called ‘How to brush your teeth with Snappy Croc’, which we will give to participating nurseries as a thank-you to use in story-telling sessions with their children, further spreading the messages.

Change4Life Top Tops for Teeth campaign

Through discussion with parents we will highlight lots of important oral health key messages:

  • Sugary foods should be kept to mealtimes if possible and avoided before bed.
  • Toothbrushing should start as soon as a baby’s first tooth comes through.
  • Babies should be seen by the dentist before their first birthday.
  • Dental treatment is free for all children under 18, and pregnant mums up until their child’s first birthday.
  • Instead of rinsing after toothbrushing, excess toothpaste should just be spat out.
  • Children should be helped with toothbrushing until they are 7 years old.
  • Toothpaste should always contain fluoride, even for babies. There’s no need to buy special toothpaste for children.
  • Use a smear of toothpaste for 0-3 years olds, and a pea-sized amount for children over 3.

The key messages will be shared via all our communication channels – website, social media and newsletters. Please help publicise this event by sharing information with your contacts and interacting/sharing our social media posts. #BetterStartBrushing



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