29 January 2015

President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy Michaela ONeill believes it is time to improve children's oral health, starting with one school in Country Antrim.

On Tuesday 3 February, Michaela ONeill will be visiting St Joseph's Primary School to help the children take steps to eliminate tooth decay and give them the knowledge of how to maintain good oral health throughout adulthood.

Speaking ahead of the visit Michaela said: "According to the last survey of Children's Dental Health in the UK, children in Northern Ireland generally have poorer oral health than other parts of the UK.

"With regards to primary teeth, Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of five-year olds and eight-year-olds with obvious decay experience, decay into dentine and fillings in primary teeth, compared to England and Wales. It is stating the obvious but something needs to be done about these figures, and the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy will be doing all they can to tackle this ultimately preventable problem.

"On behalf of the society we are concerned by the level of tooth decay in children across the UK and we would like to raise awareness of how to prevent this disease. As part of the schools Early Years curriculum, our members will volunteer their time to help teach correct methods of oral hygiene suitable for each child.

"The basic messages of good oral hygiene are simple, but so many children, especially those in more deprived areas of the UK, don't even get these. It is a challenge but one I and we as a society are looking forward to."

Frances McKinley, Principal of St Joseph's Primary School said: "At Saint Joseph's we are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles among our children. Attention to oral health and the promotion of healthy habits in terms of oral hygiene and healthy eating are an important aspect of this. The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy have been working with our foundation stage teachers in trying to achieve this."