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University of Leeds to work with Better Start Bradford to improve oral health in 0-3’s

The University of Leeds have received £109,000 through Better Start Bradford’s Innovation Fund to improve oral health for 0-3’s in Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton by delivering their ‘Enhancing the HABIT’ project with the area’s Health Visitors as soon as COVID-19 allows.

HABIT (Health visitors delivering Advice in Britain on Infant Toothbrushing) is a Medical Research Council funded research intervention which supports health visitors to have effective conversations around oral health with families.

Health Visitors will be able to provide families with a toothbrush, toothpaste, resources (HABIT leaflet and videos) and a toothbrushing demonstration with a teeth model. A discussion will take place with the family around oral health concerns, with parents identifying one behaviour they would like to improve on in their children’s oral health routine.

The HABIT programme was designed by the School of Dentistry at the University of Leeds and an early phase study in Bradford showed sustained improvement in children’s oral health behaviour following the HABIT intervention. The current funding is now being used to enhance the HABIT project through refined training and making the resources as accessible to as many Better Start families as possible, especially those at high risk of dental decay. 

Dr Peter Day, Associate Professor and Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry said: “Bradford has the highest rates of tooth decay in Yorkshire. In deprived communities two in every five children have decay by the age of five. We are very excited to be working alongside Better Start Bradford and Bradford health visitors to embed good oral health habits from baby’s first teeth appearing.

“We want to support Bradford children to grow up with good oral health, beautiful smiles and appropriate toothbrushing and healthy eating habits established in early childhood.”

Gill Thornton, Head of Programme at Better Start Bradford, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside the University of Leeds. Improved oral health for our area is a high priority and last year we launched our Better Start Brushing campaign with lots of tips on looking after those baby teeth.

“We know that tooth decay is preventable. By providing good oral health key messaging and resources via Health Visitors to families will significantly improve the oral health of young children in our area of Bradford.”

The Innovation Fund launched last year and invited organisations to apply for funding to run innovative and creative projects which focus on parenting and the first years of life in Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton. The Innovation Fund is usually open for groups to apply for between £2,500 to £100,000 for projects delivered in the Better Start Bradford area of Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton.

Better Start Bradford is part of A Better Start, a programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund , the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

For information on Better Start Bradford’s projects during the COVID-19 pandemic please visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.



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