News story

Launch of the Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board

A new programme board aims to make sure every child grows up free from tooth decay as part of having the best start in life.

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Girl brushing her teeth

Today (26 September 2016) marks the official launch of the Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board (COHIPB).

Chaired and led by Dr Jenny Godson who leads on oral health improvement at Public Health England (PHE), the COHIPB brings together stakeholder organisations that all have key leadership roles for children and young people, including NHS England, the LGA, the British Dental Association, and the Institute of Health Visiting.

The Board’s ambition is that “every child grows up free from tooth decay as part of every child having the best start in life”. The group’s oral health action plan and 5 high level objectives have been developed and agreed by partners working together following a PHE Best Start in Life oral health roundtable held in July 2015.

The Board’s objectives are to ensure:

  • child oral health is on everyone’s agenda
  • the early years and dental workforce have access to evidence based oral health improvement training
  • oral health data and information is used to the best effect by all key stakeholders
  • all stakeholders use the best evidence for oral health improvement
  • child oral health improvement information is communicated effectively

Although oral health is improving in England, almost a quarter (24.7%) of 5 year olds have tooth decay, and oral health accounts for a huge cost to health services. The NHS in England spends £3.4 billion per year on primary and secondary dental care (2014) (with an estimated additional £2.3 billion on private dental care). Tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged 5 to 9 in 2014/15 with over 26,000 children admissions for an almost entirely preventable disease.

Dr Sandra White, National Lead for Dental Public Health, Public Health England said:

There is an opportunity to change the future for our children and a welcome appetite from a number of organisations who want to work together to improve oral health in children. Improving oral health is everyone’s business.

Dental decay is associated with deprivation, with some of the most vulnerable children facing very poor oral health. Other risk factors include poor nutrition, high consumption of sugar and lack of access to fluoride (starting tooth brushing late or infrequently with low or no fluoride toothpaste). There is a strong evidence base for oral health prevention and early intervention. Evidence reviews and guidance published by PHE such as Delivering better oral health tell us what works for oral health improvement. Increased use of fluoride on the teeth and a reduction in the amount of sugar consumed could mean:

  • fewer general anaesthetics for tooth decay
  • fewer sleepless nights, missed school days and days off work for parents
  • less pain from tooth decay
  • reductions in the number of children with tooth decay
  • reduction in the oral health gap for disadvantaged families
Infographic outlining the children's oral health improvement programme board action plan for 2016 to 2020.

The Board’s action plan details 5 agreed high level objectives, examples of how they will be delivered and what success will look like in 2020.

View and download the action plan 2016 to 2020 infographic (PDF, 482KB, 1 page).

Coinciding with the launch of the board is the publication of an oral health promotion module of the Healthy Child Programme (HCP), which will sit on Health Education England’s e-learning for Healthcare website. The interactive resource is aimed at the early years workforce including health visitors, nurses and the child health team.

In the following weeks the Board will also launch:

  • a rapid review of evidence on the cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve the oral health of children aged 0 to 5 years
  • a return on investment (ROI) tool for oral health interventions for 0 to 5 year olds
  • an infographic which shows an example of the return on investment of the programmes included in the ROI tool
  • a tooth brushing feasibility report which shows the ease of delivery, acceptance and cost of an early years supervised tooth brushing scheme
  • a PHE toolkit to support supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years and school settings
Published 26 September 2016