A TEESSIDE dental clinic has helped to make more than 170 primary school children smile as part of a programme which aims to protect against tooth decay.

Dentists are working with a number of schools in Stockton to apply fluoride varnish to children’s teeth in line with The Schools Fluoride Varnish (SFV) initiative funded by Public Health England. Representatives of Queensway Dental and Queensway Orthodontics in Billingham, recently visited High Clarence Primary School in Port Clarence to apply fluoride varnish to children’s teeth.

The programme is a result of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the recommendations of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments which commissions dental practices to deliver SFV programmes in targeted schools across Teesside; Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton Local Authorities.

According to the latest health figures, nearly one-in-three North East primary school children already show signs of tooth decay and national statistics show that some 80 per cent of one and two-year-olds in England did not visit an NHS dentist last year. Selected schools already participating in the successful tooth brushing programme have been invited to join the SFV initiative to encourage good oral health habits.

Jennie Ingledew, lead dental nurse at Queensway Dental, was part of the team which delivered the programme.  She said: “At Queensway, we already have an agenda with schools as part of our tooth trooper campaign with mascots Tilly and Toby to deliver oral health awareness sessions, so it was fantastic to be able to build on this by visiting a local school.

“Results from studies have shown that decay can be reduced by the application of fluoride varnish up to four times a year. This is important as children in Teesside have on average tooth decay rates nearly double the national average. Some schools have as many as 7 in 10, five year old children suffering from tooth decay, which is a really worrying statistic. It is our aim to ensure we make improvements to children’s oral health across the region.

“Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease that can be painful – and even result in teeth being removed under general anesthetic, which is stressful for children and parents alike.

“Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle and guidance from parents and carers,” She added.

Vicki Bowker, Deputy Head Teacher at High Clarence Primary School, said: “I am delighted to see the uptake of pupils taking part in the initiative and parents getting on board to take preventative measures with oral health. The children now look forward to Queensway’s visits with Tilly and Toby and we hope that this will help to combat any fears of future dental visits.

“We are committed to the health and wellbeing of all of our pupils and by working with Queensway, all now have access to oral health care and hopefully healthy teeth for life!”

For further information please visit www.queensway.co.uk or telephone 01642 554667.