Blackpool Council’s decision to introduce fluoridated milk could pave a road for councils nationwide to follow in order to improve children’s oral health.The council voted in favour of providing schoolchildren with fluoridated milk in an effort to address the worrying levels of dental decay in the area.The initiative is set to be part of their free breakfast scheme, which was introduced in 2013, and will provide milk to more than 8000 schoolchildren in 77 primary schools.
Michaela O'Neill, President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), said of the decision: “It is great that the local council has recognised that something needs to be done to address this huge problem and taken positive action.
“The area which this change will happen is in one of the areas which has the highest levels of child dental decay in the UK, with more than one in three five-year-olds having suffered from problems.
“Other areas with similar levels of oral health problems have already introduced such schemes and this is an opportunity to show other councils that with a small, inexpensive change huge benefits can be had.”
A report to the Health and Wellbeing Board says 37 per cent of five-year-olds in Blackpool have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth, compared to 31 per cent nationally.
Parents in the region will be given the choice to opt out of allowing their children to be given the fluoridated milk.
Fluoride has been proven to greatly improve dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid.
The addition of fluoride to water has been researched for over 60 years, and water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay by 40 to 60 per cent. Blackpool does not currently benefit from fluoride in its water.
“The BSDHT has an existing commitment to improving children’s oral health through our First Smiles campaign where we look to teach children about their oral health at a young age to influence good habits which impact on the rest of their lives,” added Ms ONeill.
“We urge other councils in the UK to take note of what is happening in Blackpool and see how they can implement it to improve the levels of oral health in their region.”
The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.
BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.
Visit www.bsdht.org.uk for more information.
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