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Dental Profession

Childsmile, helping reduce inequalities in Oral Health

By Carol Craig, Dental Public Health Manager for NHS Grampian

Childsmile is a National programme run throughout Scotland to reduce inequalities in Oral Health and ensuring access to dental services for every child.  This is achieved by taking a universal and targeted approach through 3 elements:

  • Childsmile Toothbrushing
  • Childsmile Flouride Varnish
  • Childsmile Community and Practice

Childsmile Toothbrushing

This is both a universal and targeted approach that provides all children with a free toothbrush and toothpaste pack on 6 occasions up to the age of 5, along with a free-flow drinking cup before the age of 1.

All children attending nursery whether it be local authority, private or voluntary will be offered free daily supervised toothbrushing.

This is extended to become a targeted approach to those children in Primary 1 and 2 where there is a greater need.

Childsmile Flouride Varnish

This is very much a targeted approach and with consent from a parent or legal guardian.  A team of extended duty dental nurses (EDDN) trained in the application of fluoride varnish along with dental health support workers (DHSW), who deliver applications to children from the age of 3 up to at least Primary 4 in areas of highest deprivation twice a year.  The team will also deliver oral health messages, promote good oral behaviour, and encourage dental registration and support families to achieve this if required.

Childsmile Community and Practice

This again is carried out on a universal and targeted pathway.  Health visitors (HV) will deliver oral health messages when visiting their families, for family most at need, the HV will refer the family on to the DHSW who will make contact, visit, and provide oral health information tailored to their specific needs.  Support them in registering with a dentist and in some cases will attend a dental clinic with the family to help them become familiar with the process.

The emphasis on this element is to get children registered with a dental practice.  Once registered or if already registered the family should be given oral health advice tailored to the child’s age once a year (usually at one of their check-ups) along with toothbrushing demonstrations to allow parents to gain the knowledge on how to do this in the most effective way for their children.  From the age of 2 the dental practice should apply fluoride varnish twice a year irrespective of need.

As Childsmile is a Scottish Government initiative we do not in any way endorse any one product, what we do is support our families with all their oral and dental needs.  To do this we will signpost families to lots of products/services/websites which will enable the family to decide for themselves what works best for them, as we know that no two children are the same and no two situations are the same

For more information on visit Scotlands Childsmile programme.

About the author

Carol Craig, Dental Public Health Manager for NHS Grampian

Carol Craig is a Dental Public Health Manager for NHS Grampian.  She has 27 years’ experience in the dental industry both in the private and public sector.  Her passion lies in preventative dentistry and believes it should be accessible to everyone regardless of age or status.  Through the current work of the Childsmile, Caring for Smiles, Smile 4 life programmes across Scotland we are achieving this and I feel very honoured to be part of this.


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