Super Smiles, which was set up five years ago by volunteers, recently received funding to try to improve the dental health of children in the Island over the next three years and to employ a new ‘dental health educator’ for every school and pre-school.
The charity, which is run by dental surgeon Sarah Pollard and dental hygienist Caroline Wetherall, supports around 1,000 children in primary schools, nurseries and breakfast clubs and encourages them to brush their teeth every day.
But a recent survey carried out by Super Smiles reveals a ‘worrying’ picture of dental health among Jersey’s children.
‘We have been able to establish that 50 per cent of five-year-olds have not yet visited a dentist or accessed dental education,’ said Mrs Pollard.
‘The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry and the British Dental Association recommend all children should visit a dentist before their first birthday.
‘For many families this will not be possible in Jersey, with long waiting times at the hospital and prohibitive cost privately,’ she added.
The charity said that a real issue they had come across was the fact that many parents did not think they were able to take pre-school children to the dental department.
The charity added that their survey, carried out in 38 classrooms, also highlighted the limited understanding of proper dental health techniques. It found:
- 35 per cent rinse the toothpaste away after brushing, which reduces its effectiveness in preventing decay.
- 25 per cent brush only once a day
- 75 per cent of all five-year-olds had never been shown how to brush their teeth correctly by a health care professional.
For the past 18 months Super Smiles has been sponsored by the Association of Jersey Charities, using Channel Island lottery profits. The new dental health advisor will be funded by the Bosdet Foundation for the next three years and the One Foundation have also offered to cover the cost of materials.