Toothbrushes and paste to be handed out to fight future dental woes

Councillor Mary Rudd, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for community health

Mary Rudd, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for community health - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of packs of toothbrushes and toothpaste will be handed out to youngsters across Waveney in a bid to promote good oral health.

Councillors are hoping to encourage good toothbrushing routines among youngsters early on in life to try and reduce the need for costly dental work in future.

East Suffolk Council has teamed up with Community Dental Services (CDS) community interest company to work with children in primary school years one, two and six.

A host of towns across the district, including Lowestoft and Beccles have benefited from the health packs, thanks to funding from councillors.

Amanda Turner, oral health improvement manager at CDS, said: “CDS is the only oral health education provider commissioned by NHS England, alongside East Suffolk Council in the Waveney area and Norfolk County Council, to deliver our Healthy Smiles accreditation programme to schools in Norfolk and Waveney.

“We are an organisation that supports the community and we are looking at reducing the inequalities in oral health.

“By providing oral health input, the project ensures the right message and education is given.

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"In the packs received by year six children, we have also provided an evaluation piece of work produced for the teachers and pupils themselves.

“Our Healthy Smiles Award is a programme that is proven to work, instilling good oral health habits in young children that last a lifetime.”

The Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth and villages community partnership at East Suffolk Council has funded 600 packs containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, two-minute timer and information sheet.

Just over 350 have been delivered to year six pupils at 12 of the area’s primary schools, with the remainder distributed to food banks and scout groups.

Meanwhile in Lowestoft, five Labour councillors have pooled their enabling community budget to distribute 1,500 packs through Lowestoft Rising with support from Morrisons to primary school children in years one and two.

In Felixstowe, Conservative councillor Steve Wiles has used his enabling community budget to fund 520 packs to Key Stage 1 children at five of the town’s primaries.

The project comes at a time when the cost of living crisis means private dental care may not be an option for hard-pressed families, while availability of NHS dental appointments remains a challenge nationally and locally.

Mary Rudd, East Suffolk’s Conservative cabinet member for community health, said: “It’s really gratifying to see such a beneficial resource being provided for the community through the distribution of these oral health packs.

“The project is designed to help encourage young people to develop and maintain good oral hygiene habits, while also thinking about their dietary choices.

“We’ve heard from local food banks that oral hygiene is one of the things affected by the current cost of living pressures, so I hope this project can help ensure families receive the right tools and information.

“It’s particularly important at a time when many people have struggled to access dental care following the pandemic.

“Where a short survey has been sent out in conjunction with the packs, we’ll be considering any feedback received from families and school staff.”