To improve the oral health of early years children and their families, Buckinghamshire County Council has commissioned the ‘Smile Award Plus’ programme.
This programme takes a population-approach by supporting oral health improvement through the development and accreditation of health promoting environments within early years settings.
The Smile Award Plus programme supports these settings to implement evidencebased oral health improvement actions and accredits those that are successful. Accredited settings will:
- have a ‘tooth friendly’ food and snack policy, limiting sugary snacks and providing water and milk in preference to sugary and acidic drinks
- have staff trained to give consistent and evidence-informed oral health information to children and their families
- promote oral health messages via a variety of methods including displays and information, specific oral health education sessions, supermarket and garden visits, fruit and vegetable tasting and growing activities, promoting and providing healthy snacks, and providing open cups for use instead of bottles within their settings.
Settings are assessed and reaccredited every two years. To date 94 per cent of children’s centres have achieved accreditation. Evaluation suggests that behaviour changes are being made by families in response to this, including dietary changes, appropriate bottle and dummy use, introduction of open cup drinking and improved compliance with tooth brushing.