Prevention and promotion of oral health in schoolchildren

Through the programme carried out by the Regional Health Delegation, 3,600 check-ups have been carried out on pupils in the first year of primary school.

The Andalusian Regional Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs has focused on the prevention and promotion of oral health in schoolchildren, through an initiative that has enabled 3,600 check-ups to be carried out on first year primary school pupils in the province of Almeria. The ‘School Oral Health Programme’ is part of the Andalusian Plan for the Promotion of Oral Health, through the Children’s Dental Care Programme (PADI) and Creciendo en Salud (Growing up in Health).

A total of 18 primary care dentists and 42 school nurses from the different districts of the province have carried out the programme throughout the 2022-2023 school year, which has included talks and prevention and promotion activities for oral health with pupils in the first year of primary school. Oral check-ups have also been carried out – by dentists and with the consent of the parents or guardians of the pupils – with a subsequent report on the pupil’s oral health, as well as the appropriate recommendations and information on the PADI.

The general objectives of the ‘School Oral Health Programme’ are to promote preventive activities for oral health in schools, as well as to contribute effectively and efficiently to improving the oral and general health care of the population; to achieve equity in the fundamental right to health protection and in the continuous search for excellence.

All this through healthy eating habits with a healthy diet, knowing the relationship between food and oral hygiene in the appearance of dental caries, oral health and health in general. Through workshops, the pupils learnt about the functions of the mouth and teeth, the technique of brushing and the importance of using fluoride toothpaste, as well as becoming aware of the importance of hygienic habits in social relations. The programme places special emphasis on the integration of oral health examinations in order to promote early diagnosis of dental caries and dento-skeletal malocclusions at an early age in schoolchildren.

The strategy of health promotion from childhood is of great importance, as it is possible to initiate, learn and consolidate, from an early age, values, knowledge and habits that guarantee a good state of health and well-being in adult life. As the regional delegate for Health and Consumer Affairs, Juan de la Cruz Belmonte, pointed out, good healthy lifestyle habits are born in families, but they can be reinforced in the school environment, which is why the school becomes the most effective setting for modifying children’s lifestyles, with special attention to children between the ages of 6 and 12″.

Dental caries is the most prevalent chronic disease in the world and constitutes a major public health challenge. It is the most common disease in childhood, but affects all ages throughout life. Current data show that untreated caries in permanent teeth has a global prevalence of 40% and represents the most frequent condition of the 291 processes analysed in the International Burden of Disease Study. Caries has an impact on the quality of life of children, adolescents and adults, and correct childhood habits minimise the risks in adulthood.

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