‘Childsmile Week’ has become a popular event on the summer holiday calendar in the Western Isles and this summer has proved the most popular yet, with record breaking numbers flocking to their local dental clinic.

All five dental clinics, from Stornoway to Barra, held a week specifically to see children where they get their teeth checked and enjoy lots of fun and games at the same time. 

All children received toothbrushing instruction, dietary advice and fluoride varnish.  They participated in activities and competitions related to their oral health, delivering key oral health messages in a fun way. 

As well as the key messages of good brushing, diet and visiting the dentist regularly, this year’s focus was sugar quantities in foods and drink, and encouraging the use of fluoride toothpaste. 

With the average child consuming three times more sugar than recommended, we are all having too much sugar in our diet and a ‘Sugar Board’ was created to demonstrate the quantities of sugar in a selection of foods and drinks with parents being taken by surprise at the quantity of sugars in apparently healthy foods.  One example showed how one pack of ‘Urban Fruit’ dried strawberries contained the same amount of sugar as a bottle of ‘Irn Bru’.

The dental teams continued their ‘summer garden party’ theme in reception areas, spending many hours constructing trees and flowers for the ‘gardens’ with the children loving the results.  The picnic on the lawn had a great selection of healthy foods (albeit plastic ones).

The biggest success of all was this year’s ‘Dress-up Corner’ and ‘Photo Booth’ with kids dressing up as either a tooth fairy, dental nurse or (the favourite with girls and boys alike) a dentist.  Children made their way to the ‘Photo Booth’ for their selfie which was then posted to the NHS Western Isles Facebook page.

Parents overwhelmingly agreed that ‘Childsmile Week’ is great for kids with one parent commenting “It’s an excellent idea.  It’s an enjoyable day for the children during the holidays.  We as parents very much appreciate the time, effort and money put in to organising such an event – thank you!”

Colin Robertson, NHS Western Isles Chief Administrative Dental Officer, said: "Each year ‘Childsmile Week’ shows the improvement in our children's dental health. Parents have really embraced the important messages about diet and brushing.

“Levels of decay keep falling all across the Western Isles. Nowhere in Scotland has better children's teeth than here, and that is an extraordinary achievement.  This has been made possible by the close cooperation between our own staff, CNES and parents. 

“Tooth-brushing is being delivered in all local schools, and our local pre-school playgroups support the programme of prevention and education. This close team working means we are ahead of National targets and the Dental team can be proud of what they have already accomplished."