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Improving oral health of local children

Monday, May 23, 2016

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YMCA Lightning Reef Early Learning Centre has received a Smiles 4 Miles award, recognising their work and commitment to improving the oral health of some of our youngest community members.

Smiles 4 Miles is an oral health promotion program for kindergarten-aged children developed by Dental Health Services Victoria and implemented in partnership with Bendigo Health throughout Greater Bendigo.

Lightning Reef Early Learning Centre are supporting up to 200 children under the age of six to look after their oral health.

Services can achieve a Smiles 4 Miles award by implementing healthy eating and oral health policies, engaging with families about the importance of oral health, and educating children through a variety of fun learning experiences based on the Smiles 4 Miles key messages – Drink well, Eat well and Clean well.

Bendigo Health Executive Director Healthy Communities and Continuing Care, Liz Hamilton, said the program is so important for a number of reasons.

“Tooth decay is largely preventable and can impact on a child’s ability to socialise, eat and speak,” Ms Hamilton said.

“It is also the highest cause of preventable hospital admissions in children, with 26,000 admitted in Australia every year for fillings or teeth removal.”

Bendigo YMCA CEO, Jane Robson, said Bendigo Regional YMCA is proud of its participation in the Smiles 4 Miles program and is very pleased to receive the Award.  

“The successful integration of this important initiative into centre activities has been made possible by the enthusiasm and commitment of our Lightning Reef staff team, in their work with families and children. The strategies implemented will be part of our ongoing daily practices at the centre,” Ms Robson said.

The three steps to healthy teeth and gums:

1. Drink well- Drink tap water or plain milk and avoid sugary drinks like cordials, juices and soft drinks.

2. Eat well- Eat a variety of nutritious foods each day and limit sugary foods, particularly between meals.

3. Clean well- Brush teeth twice daily, adults should help children until at least the age of seven. 

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