£1.9 million to help children from deprived areas brush up on oral health

Teenager Visit Dentist

A new research project working with schools in South Yorkshire will investigate ways of improving the oral health of young people living in deprived areas.

Researchers will work with 48 schools and nearly 6000 young people in England, Scotland and Wales on the four-year Brushing Reminder 4 Good Oral Health (BRIGHT) initiative.

BRIGHT, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will investigate whether a classroom-based lesson about dental health followed by a series of text messages could increase how often and how well children aged 11-16 years brush their teeth – and ultimately reduce levels of tooth decay.

In each school, one class will receive the talk and a series of text messages, while another will not. The team will collect information on tooth decay, frequency of brushing, and the impact decay has on the children’s lives to determine whether those in the programme develop better oral health habits than those who don’t participate.

The project is led by the University of Dundee in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. The team will work with colleagues from the Universities of Leeds and Cardiff and the York Trials Unit on the project.

Dr Zoe Marshman, Reader in Dental Public Health at the University of Sheffield, said: “We welcome the opportunity to help children in secondary schools in deprived areas achieve good dental health which can then be maintained throughout their lives.”

“To do this we are working with children, parents and school staff together with an expert team of researchers in dentistry, health economics, psychology, education, digital technology and trials.”