Oral health

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Supporting healthy smiles for Luton children

A recent oral health survey identified that 5 years olds in Luton experience considerably more tooth decay than the national average (23.3% England: 37.6 % Luton. PHE 2017). The average number of decayed teeth in children with tooth decay is 4.3 teeth; with some children having as many as 15 teeth affected. Five year old children should have 20 healthy teeth.

Tooth decay is mainly a preventable disease. The causes are related to:

Poor oral hygiene:

  • not using a family, fluoride toothpaste
  • not brushing twice daily, especially last thing at night

Poor nutrition:

  • frequent consumption of sugary snacks and drinks, especially between meals
  • prolonged use of baby bottles and valved cups

Not visiting a dentist:

  • Parents are being encouraged to take babies to the dentist from 6 months old and should have had a first check-up by their 1st birthday. Even if the baby doesn’t open her/his mouth the dental team will provide preventative oral health advice.

Community Dental Services offer fluoride varnish to vulnerable children in the community. This service is for Luton children between 2 to 5 years old with higher risk of tooth decay. This includes children living in 20% most deprived LSOA’s, children with siblings who have experienced dental decay or extraction, children of families with poor oral hygiene or nutritional concerns (as listed above) and other children with vulnerabilities or safeguarding concerns.

Fluoride varnish is one of the best options for increasing the availability of topical fluoride; it is a safe and simple procedure that is well accepted by children. It only takes a moment to apply so is ideal to use with young, wriggly children. They can have fluoride varnish applied at least twice a year, free of charge, from an NHS dentist.

The application of fluoride varnish in community settings is a tried and tested, early intervention in Luton, to help reduce tooth decay in those most at risk; however its success depends on professionals referring children to the service. Professionals are encouraged to refer all eligible children directly to this service using the referral form available below:

Fluoride Varnish Referral Pathway

Please contact Sue Jordan Asst Director, Community Dental Services on 01234 331635 for more information.

For more information or assistance, call Flying Start on 01582 548336 or email flyingstart@luton.gov.uk