Smiles 4 Miles program a hit in East Gippsland

Bairnsdale Regional Health Service has teamed up with Orbost Regional Health and the Omeo District Health Service to promote the importance of good oral health to communities across East Gippsland.

Six early childhood services are the first in the region to participate in Dental Health Services Victoria’s Smiles 4 Miles program, an initiative aimed at improving the oral health of preschool aged children and their families by encouraging healthy eating, healthy drinking and good oral hygiene, using three key messages Eat well, Drink well, Clean well.

To support the clean well message an oral health therapist has provided free onsite dental screenings of the children with the aim of the early identification of tooth and gum disease, raising awareness amongst parents and supporting them to access to free treatment in the Bairnsdale, Omeo and Orbost public dental clinics.

Early Child Care Educator, Sue Forward, from the Orbost Kindergarten said “we know that good oral health is essential to your overall health and wellbeing, and we also know that good habits are learned early in life, that is why we are encouraging good oral health habits with our youngest members of our community and their families.”

Oral Health Therapist, Andrea Bradley. said “many parents do not realise that until children can tie their shoe laces, they do not have the skills to use a toothbrush unassisted and support from parents is suggested until around the age of seven. Taking children for their first dental visit by age two, and/or before there is a problem, often results in a positive experience for both children and parents”.

Bairnsdale Regional Health Service Oral Health Program Manager, Rupa Sharma, advised “there is much support from public dental clinics to the East Gippsland community with free treatment available to all children under the age of 13 years. The Child Dental Benefits Scheme also provides children aged between 3 and 17 years eligible for Family Tax Benefit A with $1000 for most dental services over 2 years.