This is the finding of the first evaluation of the ongoing Childsmile National Toothbrushing Programme, carried out by Glasgow University, which tracks its impact since it was launched in 2001 to 2010.
The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered to all schools and nurseries, at a cost of £1.87m annually.
Nursery staff are trained by health professionals to understand national standards for oral health and infection control, and to effectively supervise children’s toothbrushing.
Each child also receives a dental pack containing a toothbrush, a tube of fluoride toothpaste and regular information leaflets. A free-flow feeder cup is given to children by the age of one.
Professor Lorna MacPherson, who is based at Glasgow University, and is author of the report says,
‘Every two years we track how children’s oral health has changed, calculating reductions in fillings, extractions and levels of decay. The research findings have been arrived at by extrapolating the costs of treatment for each of these areas.
‘The savings in dental treatment outweigh the ongoing cost of running the programme which has remained fairly static.’
She adds, ‘It is a great example of collaboration between local authorities, the health service and nurseries, to achieve this improvement.’
The full findings of the research will be presented at the European Association of Public Dental Health Conference in Malta on 14 November