Chief dental officer reveals plans for Smile4life

smileSara Hurley, chief dental officer for NHS England, announced plans for the Smile4life programme at the recent Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016.

To be launched next September, Smile4life is the concept of a national framework for oral health initiatives.

With an initial focus on early years, the plan is to get a commitment from a range of health professionals, establish partnerships – including initiatives to facilitate referrals to dentists for dental checks by age one – from a range of sectors including A&E, schools, health visitors, parent teacher associations and GPs, as well as promoting self-care.

The initiative for Smile4life stems from a series of positive partnerships and visits created when the chief dental officer toured the NHS England regions earlier this year. Sara was particularly impressed by a number of effective health and social care collaborations and how local ambition, combined with local commissioning achieves a whole range of high value health outcomes.

From these visits, there was is an obvious aspiration to create a national programme of effective, evidence-based cross professional initiatives. Through this umbrella programme, it is hoped local government authorities, clinical commissioning groups and third sector health and social care providers will integrate oral health into their health promotion and care pathways as the norm.

At the heart of the first phase of Smile4life is reducing sugar in children’s diets, optimising oral health through children’s contact with their regular care professionals and increasing the uptake of a first dental check by age one.

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