A healthy mouth helps children to eat, speak, learn and smile. Baby teeth DO matter. Dental decay can lead to pain, sleepless nights, time off school and time off work for parents, with over 3,400 children in Greater Manchester having to have teeth removed in hospital every year. Young children with dental decay often go on to develop more dental problems as they grow into teenagers and adults.
The Partnership’s £1.5m new children’s transformation programme has built on local work in four areas – Salford, Oldham, Rochdale and Bolton. We have been working with local nurseries and schools to introduce supervised toothbrushing and dental care education, as well as incorporating dental care incorporated into health visitor checks. Over 50,000 children are taking part in these programmes.
Oral health has now become everyone’s business. Tameside general hospital’s ditch the sugar 70-day challenge to mark 70 years of the NHS highlighted, for example, how small changes in diet can have a really positive effect. Pharmacists across Greater Manchester also ran an oral health campaign in May 2018 and many councils have worked with local voluntary and community organisations to improve children’s dental health.
Local dental practices have played an active role with over 50 working to become Healthy Living Dental Practices with a focus on prevention and wellbeing. The proportion of children under the age of 2 visiting a dentist in Greater Manchester is nearly double the national average and increased in the past 2 years. In addition, 55 dental practices have led the way in providing more prevention and support for parents as part of the Baby Teeth Do Matter scheme, providing prevention and fluoride varnish for children.
There has been lots of good practice in localities including the fluoride varnish scheme in Rochdale and Buddy practice scheme in Manchester.
But it hasn’t all been about children. Many dental practices are becoming dementia friendly and staff in hospital and care homes have been trained in mouthcare to improve the health and quality of life of vulnerable and older people.
Dental health is still a challenge but the energy, commitment and focus across Greater Manchester shows that we’re making progress and bringing real improvements to the area’s dental health.
The Greater Manchester Population Health Plan was published in January 2017, setting out how we intended to make the most of the opportunities presented by devolution to transform the health, wealth and wellbeing of Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million residents. You can read more about our ambitions in the Population Health Plan