The Dentist Magazine.

New campaign to tackle child tooth decay in Westminster

Published: 26/01/2018

Tooth decay is the top cause of non-emergency hospital visits for children in Westminster, despite efforts to encourage better brushing and trips to the dentist.

Pupils from Pimlico Primary School were present for the launch of a new oral health campaign, aimed at reversing the concerning trend among children aged one to nine.

In Westminster 35 per cent of five year-old children have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth, compared with 27 per cent in London and just under 25 per cent across England.

The figures have been improving, in 2012 five year olds in the borough had on average 1.72 decayed, missing or filled tooth, in 2015 this had fallen to 1.17. However, it is still concerning given that tooth decay is almost entirely preventable.

Research shows that there are additional cultural and transitory barriers to registering with a dentist early and a lack of awareness of dental health resources.

Westminster City Council has launched a new campaign to tackle the issue, with a new animation, ‘The Tale of Triumph over Terrible Teeth’ aimed at young children.

The video is being shown at schools across Westminster, and children can follow the story of Ravi and the toothfairy, who encourages him to brush in the morning and before bed with a fluoride toothpaste, and to cut down on sugary foods and drinks.

Heather Acton, Westminster City Council cabinet member for adult social services and public health, said, “It is so important that we lead the way and address this problem in Westminster. We are aiming to reach children and taking the time to get the message across in an innovative way by working with schools, dentists and doctors.

“If your baby’s first teeth have appeared, it is time to visit the dentist. This is free and getting into a routine of taking your children to the dentist makes a real difference.”

Poor dental health is the result of poor diets with high and frequent consumption of sugary foods, lack of exposure to fluoride, poor dental hygiene and brushing technique.

Christabel Flight, Westminster City Council deputy cabinet member for adult social services and public health, said, “A number of my own grown-up children still believe in the Toothfairy, so it was lovely to see a whole new generation of children at Pimlico Primary reacting so positively to her advice.”

Analysis of NHS spending data by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that £36.2m was spent on 42,911 extractions for under-18s in 2016/17, which equates to 170 operations a day.

Suresh Chande, chair of the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Local Dental Committee, said, “Poor oral health habits can lead to pain and avoidable tooth decay, and even to hospital admissions. Dental professionals know that good oral health habits are key to ensuring good oral health and this is why we are pleased to see Westminster City Council addressing avoidable tooth decay in an innovative and engaging manner.”

Visit to view the animation and ask your children to take the quiz on oral health.