Free toothbrushes for one million children

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Indy Lifestyle Online

More than one million children in England are to receive free toothbrushes and toothpaste as part of a government initiative to tackle tooth decay in deprived areas.

More than one million children in England are to receive free toothbrushes and toothpaste as part of a government initiative to tackle tooth decay in deprived areas.

The £1m Brushing for Life project was launched after research showed that pre-school children from deprived areas have up to three times the level of tooth decay of those from wealthier backgrounds.

The three-year project will target babies and toddlers in the 21 areas with the highest levels of dental decay among five-year-olds. It also sets new targets for children's teeth, saying that five-year-olds should have no more than one decayed, missing or filled tooth by 2003, while 70 per cent should have no decay at all.

The worst areas for early tooth decay are in the North- west, Yorkshire and London.

Launching the strategy, Hazel Blears, a Health minister, said: "This is the Government putting its money where its mouth is, quite literally.

"Research shows that in some deprived areas children can experience three times the amount of dental decay compared with children from more affluent areas.

"This is unacceptable when both dental decay and gum disease are avoidable simply by encouraging young children to develop the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste."

Health visitors will give a free toothbrush, toothpaste and leaflets to the parents and carers of young children and demonstrate correct toothbrushing techniques. The packs will be distributed at children's health development checks at eight months, 18 months, and three years.

The British Dental Health foundation estimates that about 4 per cent of two-year-olds have some tooth decay, rising to 30 per cent in four-year-olds. A survey of 700 three-year-olds in Manchester by the Health Education Authority found that 40 per cent had some decay.

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