Fairy brings important message to South Armagh

May 27, 2013

The Tooth Fairy Day was held on Monday 20th May in Silverbridge. The event was marked by many excited children and with over 100 children in attendance it was very successful.   The tooth fairy day was a fun event with a serious message; oral diseases (tooth decay, gum disease) are so prevalent in the area that they significantly diminish our collective quality of life. This event highlights the interdependence of general and oral health and how one affects the other, and vice versa.  Good oral health is one of the most important habits which needs to be nurtured and maintained through the life course.   Unfortunately there is no happy ending to this fairy tale; in the Newry and Mourne area, there is one of the highest rates of tooth extractions in young children in Europe.  In the under-five age group, in 2011, there were over 6000 teeth extracted under general anaesthetic  in the Southern Trust area.  This highlights the need for early intervention.

The Tooth Fairy event was a partnership event between Sure Start South Armagh, Community Dental Service and Promoting Wellbeing Team Newry and Mourne Southern Health and Social Care Trust.  This partnership working is in line with the Oral Health strategy which recommends that where possible, health and education professions should work together to maximise resources across disciplines and ensure that preventive advice given to the public is consistent. Aileen and Christine from Camlough Dental Practice were also in attendance, and they are keen to encourage parents to register with their local dentist from a very young age, they stated “to have a beautiful smile, visit your dentist”.  The tooth fairy day was well attended with local nursery school children and lots of families from the local area were also there.

The event focussed on key messages delivered in an interactive, participative way.  Some activities focussed on informing parents of the amount of sugar in everyday foods and drinks, and the importance of limiting the consumption of sugary foods and drinks, and the importance of brushing twice per day with fluoride toothpaste.   Anita Kavanagh, Community Dental Service said: “Parents need to know that for children under 3 years of age the toothpaste must contain no less than 1000 ppm fluoride, but for children 3 years and over that increases to 1350-1500 ppm fluoride – this message needs to get to all parents”.

Conor Mc Ardle, Sure Start South Armagh project manager said ‘This event raises the profile of an important family health issue.  It also highlights the continued need for everyone working with families to continue to do so in partnership with each other to promote oral health.  Thanks to all Sure Start staff and those who supported us on the day Southern Health & Social Care Trust Oral Health Promotion, Early Years – the organisation for young children and Camlough Dental Practice’.  There are plans to have future tooth fairy events in other areas.