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A nursery toothbrushing programme has produced a saving in the cost of children’s dental treatment of just over £6m and has been responsible for a sharp decline in tooth decay in young children.
A study carried out by the University of Glasgow found that in 2009/10, the toothbrushing initiative had seen the cost of treating dental disease reduce by more than 50 per cent since 2001/02, when the programme originally began.
The programme sees every nursery in Scotland offering free, daily, supervised toothbrushing for their children by nursery staff. It costs around £1.8m each year and is part of the Scotland-wide Childsmile programme, which emphasises the importance of toothbrushing and helps parents establish a healthy diet from the earliest stage.
Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: “This is an amazing achievement and shows just how much can be saved from a very simple health intervention – toothbrushing in nursery schools.
“This has seen less tooth decay in children which means less toothache, fewer sleepless nights and less time off school.
“By this simple measure, NHS costs associated with the dental disease of five-year-old children have decreased dramatically.
“More children can just be treated routinely in the dental chair because they need less invasive treatments, so fewer fillings and fewer extractions, and many more children with much better oral health than we have seen in many years.”
A number of nurseries and schools in targeted areas also provide fluoride varnish and toothbrushing in primary one and two.