Donations of toothbrushes wanted to combat decay

Published Wednesday, 16th May 2018
A child has her teeth checked by a dentist
A child has her teeth checked by a dentist

People are being urged to donate toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste to foodbanks to help combat childhood tooth decay in Rotherham.

Nationally record numbers of children are having rotten teeth extracted, with similar statistics here in Rotherham. This is because children are consuming three times more sugar than is recommended through snacks and sugary drinks.

But tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, say dentists, who are encouraging parents to reduce their children’s sugar intake and bring them in for check-ups even before their first teeth appear.

Dentist Steve Thompson, Chair of Rotherham Local Dental Committee who works at Bramley Dental Practice in Bramley, said: “It is frustrating having to send very young children for general anaesthetics in order to have their teeth extracted, and one of the reasons for this is because parents are leaving it too late to bring their children to the dentist for their first check-up.

“I would urge parents to bring their children in before the age of one, as then we can then teach them about how to brush their child’s teeth when they appear, with fluoride toothpaste, and give advice on diet and what causes tooth decay.”

Nearly one in three children aged five in Rotherham has had tooth decay at some point.  This is higher than the national average.

As part of National Smile Month, which began this week, Rotherham Council is asking residents to donate fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes to families to help reverse this trend.  Brushing with fluoride toothpaste strengthens teeth and prevents tooth decay. The Council is also working with Children’s Centres along with colleagues from the Rotherham Foundation Trust 0-19 Integrated Public Health Nursing Service to promote key messages to help improve the dental health of children and families.

Cllr David Roche, Cabinet Member for Public Health at Rotherham Council said: “Children are not born with rotten and decaying teeth; this comes as a result of lifestyle choices.

“It is of concern that such high numbers of children are having teeth extracted due to tooth decay, given that it is entirely preventable. It is costly not only for the NHS, but it also has a high impact on families. Treatment under general anaesthetic can be a traumatic experience for the child and their carers; carries a risk of life threatening complications, and is disruptive in terms of time taken off school and work.

“We need to act now so we can help reverse these worrying statistics so future generations can have healthy sets of teeth. It is important that people are encouraged to look after their health, including the health of their teeth.

“However, we know for some families it can be a struggle to be able to afford even basics like toothbrushes and toothpaste. That is why we are encouraging people to donate these items to food banks or you can donate them here at our Riverside offices or children’s centres.”

National Smile Month is the UK’s largest and longest-running campaign to promote good oral health.  It seeks to highlight three key messages, all of which aim to help people develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are:

  • Brush teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Cut down on how often sugary foods and drinks are consumed 
  • Visit the dentist regularly, as often as is recommended

The campaign runs from 14th May to 14th June and activities and information will be on offer from all Children's Centres across the borough.

In addition to the work in Children Centres, Rotherham Council’s Riverside House and Town Hall, Healthwatch and Rotherham Community Health Centre will have collection boxes where toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste can be donated. 

At the end of the campaign the donations will be distributed to foodbanks across Rotherham as these are items that are generally not donated but are essential for maintaining a healthy mouth.

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