NHS England has launched Starting Well: A Smile4Life Initiative. This programme of dental practice-based initiatives aims to reduce oral health inequalities and improve oral health in children under the age of five years.
The programme will be available to all children, with a focus on those who are not currently visiting the dentist and under one-year-olds and will ensure that evidence-based preventive advice about reducing sugar intake and increasing the exposure to fluoride on teeth is given to parents of these children.
There will be patient and practice level interventions alongside work to strengthen relationships between local communities and practices.
The programme intends to complement existing local NHS England and local authority led initiatives and the work of the Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board and dental contract reform.
The programme will sit as part of a range of interventions that local health and social care economies responsible for children’s oral health need to put in place. Guidance from Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) describe evidence based population level interventions to improve oral health such as water fluoridation that complement this practice based initiative.
The programme has been launched in 13 high priority areas. These areas were chosen on the basis of decay experience at a local authority level, existing oral health improvement plans and trends in oral health.
The 13 high priority areas are (in no particular order):
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Kingston upon Hull, City of
Although this programme is targeted at 13 high priority areas, the programme documentation and methods will be made available to all local teams, in the Implementation Pack, meaning that commissioners can use the programme as a template for non-priority areas, subject to similar local funding agreements being reached.