• £1.5 million grant from health and care devolution transformation fund
  • Plan to increase access to dental care for children under the age of five
  • Expand supervised tooth brushing in early-years settings

A £1.5 million-pound action plan to improve children’s oral health in Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Bolton has been launched.

The investment aims to reduce both the number of children aged five and under affected by tooth decay and those needing a general anaesthetic to have their teeth taken out due to decay.

Nearly all the cash will be spent on prevention work such as supervised tooth brushing programmes; toothbrush and toothpaste packs distributed via health visitors and dental practices and increased prevention messages.

The announcement is being made by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the body overseeing the devolution of the £6bn health and care budget in the city region.

Jon Rouse, the region’s chief health officer, has described this as a “significant step to children starting well and being school-ready”.

The wide-ranging three-year programme aims to:

  • Increase the number of children under the age of five accessing dental care, with a focus on high-risk groups and under ones
  • Expand supervised tooth brushing in nurseries, schools and other early-years settings
  • Extend the provision of preventative advice to families including through training those working with children to share these messages

Dr Mohsan Ahmad is a dentist and Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Dental Network. He is backing this campaign:

“Many people think baby teeth don’t matter because the teeth will fall out anyway and be replaced with a second set, but they do matter, and what we want to do in Greater Manchester is get the message out there about looking after your teeth from a young age.”

“Having poor oral health can affect children’s ability to eat, sleep, speak, can lead to pain and infection and being admitted to hospital for an operation.”

“We want to make sure that schools and other early-years settings put in place daily supervised tooth brushing programmes, increase the numbers of children who brush their teeth every day and encourage children and their families to visit a dentist at least once a year for a check-up.”

In Greater Manchester, approximately 36% of children aged five have tooth decay compared with 25% across England.

In 2015/6 treatment of preventable tooth decay in children cost Greater Manchester circa £20 million, representing a significant proportion of the total annual spend for dentistry, of around £200 million.