Free toothbrushes will stop the rot for tots

Toddlers in Wales are to get free toothbrushes and toothpaste to stem ‘unacceptable’ rates of dental decay.

A programme called Designed to Smile will also teach children the rights and wrongs of teeth cleaning.

Youngsters aged four to six in north Wales and large parts of south east Wales are to be targeted first in pilot projects.

A total of £4.6million is being put aside, and patient charges for dental treatment are frozen for a second year.

Health Minister Edwina Hart will launch the scheme in Merthyr Tydfil, and the assembly government has confirmed children as young as three will be taught how to clean their teeth properly in schools.

Ms Hart said: ‘Rates of tooth decay in Wales are unacceptable for what is almost a totally preventable disease.

‘We intend to work towards every child being provided with free toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste.

‘Some of our children have some of the worst teeth in Europe.

‘We need to reverse the trend if we are to meet our dental health and child poverty targets.’

Ms Hart said the tooth-brushing schemes will provide children with the tools they need to develop and maintain good oral health from an early age.

Older children aged six to 11 will also be given advice on teeth cleaning.

She said patient charges for dental treatment for the second year running to help maintain wider access to NHS dental services.

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