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The Medway Smiles initiative will introduce an early year’s dental passport for infants born in Medway from September 2014 to encourage regular dental access from the age of 6 months and will provide evidence of dental access in the critical early years from 6 months through to 2.5 years of age.
Medway has an average 3500 children born annually and Medway Public Health has a priority to ‘give every child the best start in life’ which includes reducing the risk of the incidence of early years tooth decay.
The Medway Smiles Passport is part of the joint partnership project between the Medway Council Public Health Team and the Health Visiting Teams in Medway Community Healthcare which will create opportunities for oral health promotion from birth and aims to encourage attendance for dental checks from an early age with the support of the local dental practices.
Parents and Carers will be invited to attend a group oral health session as part of their babies 4 month Health Visitor follow up. The sessions will be held at each of the Medway Children’s Centres and advice will be in line with the guidance in Delivering Better Oral Health 3rd Ed 2014 www.gov.uk/publications. Topics covered will include teething and the importance of deciduous teeth, tooth brushing routines and correct use of fluoride toothpaste, sugars and dental decay, open cup drinking and the links with unsuitable feeding habits to early years decay and advice on visiting the dentist from 6 months of age when the first deciduous teeth will be erupting. As part of this support parents will receive a Medway Smiles passport, 3 advice leaflets and a tooth brush for their baby.
The Medway Smiles passport will provide a personal record of visits to the dentist from 6 months and will be incorporated as part of the 2.5 year checks carried out by the Health Visiting Teams so access to dental care can be monitored. Dental decay and poor oral health can be identified at an early stage which will in turn lead to a lowered incidence of hospital referral for tooth extractions under GA.
Regular dental checks from aged 6 months will allow very young children to gain confidence through early exposure to the dental surgery which will in turn reduce anxiety for parents taking children to the dentist and encourage continued good oral health behaviours and routines
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