A CAMPAIGN is being launched to improve oral health among children living in White City.
Dentists in Hammersmith and Fulham have come up with the Keep Smiling pilot project, run with NHS North West London and the council, to improve the health habits of three to seven-year-olds.
They will visit primary schools and offer fluoride varnish – a gel designed to strengthen and protect teeth from decay – while teaching youngsters how to brush their teeth properly and giving out free toothbrushes and toothpaste.
It comes after shocking figures released last year showed half of children in the borough suffer from decayed, missing or filled teeth, which costs the NHS up to £350,000 a year.
In 2010/11, there were more than 300 hospital admissions for dental problems in Hammersmith and Fulham, representing 10 per cent of all admissions among one to 18-year-olds and 22 per cent of admissions in five to nine-year-olds.
Kate Barnard, dental health consultant at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Every day throughout the country children undergo general anaesthesia to extract and restore decayed teeth, but dental decay is a preventable disease.
“It can cause infection which is often painful and may require hospital admission for intravenous antibiotics.
“Prevention is easy to achieve by reducing the frequency of sugar intake, avoiding juices, cordials, fizzy drinks and flavoured milk drinks, and twice daily brushing with an age appropriate fluoride toothpaste.”
Volunteers, called community champions, are being recruited in White City to drive the project and encourage community participation.
Kissu Denton-Savage is getting involved in the scheme after her three-year-old daughter needed an operation to remove six teeth and fill nine cavities as a result of decay.
She said: “I realised my lifestyle and the food I had given her such as sweets to calm her down when she had tantrums had created more problems than I could have imagined. I now don’t give in to my daughter’s tantrums.
“I think back to her experience in hospital and don’t feel guilty.
“Since changing her diet, I have noticed that my daughter speaks much more clearly and her behaviour has improved now she is not in pain.”