Faced with very poor oral health in young children and significant inequalities throughout the district, Bradford Metropolitan District Council has prioritised the oral health of young children, including it in its Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Inequalities Action Plan.
The council commissioned a series of oral health improvement programmes focused on young children’s oral health called ‘Building Brighter Smiles’ (BBS).
These programmes have population-wide and targeted elements and include breast feeding advice, partnership working with health visitors, community based fluoride varnish applications, a dental health award programme promoting a healthy diet in pre-school settings and toothpaste and brushing programmes in schools and mosques.
Training and regular updates in evidence based oral health practice to professionals working with children and young people, is embedded within BBS, to communicate consistent oral health and general health messages to ensure widespread impact. Training is integral to the health visitor led ‘Brushing for life’ programme where health visitors distribute fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes. They also give evidence based oral health advice to support parents of young families.
The intervention is incorporated within the healthy child programme service specification. Dental practices in Bradford are supported to re-orientate their services towards prevention through the Health Promoting Dental Practices Award. Contract performance monitoring ensures delivery of the programme and outcome measures of oral health are beginning to show some improvement.