Childsmile offers helping hand to Irish profession

Scotland’s Childsmile oral health programme for young people could hold valuable lessons for the ROI and Northern Ireland, the programme’s director has suggested.

Prof Lorna Macpherson said she would be delighted to talk to policymakers and professionals looking to reform their systems.

Childsmile has had significant success in both reducing tooth decay among Scotland’s young people and cutting the amount of public money spent on treatment (see pages 20-23).

Recent revelations that approximately £9 million a year is being spent on multiple extractions for under-18s in Northern Ireland have led to calls for root and branch reform.

BDA Northern Ireland Council Chair Roz McMullan said: “With the health service facing huge pressures, Northern Ireland needs to confront a wholly preventable disease that not only causes untold misery, but is now costing us millions. Our oral health strategy is well past its sell-by date. Governments in Wales and Scotland have shown there’s nothing inevitable about child tooth decay, and we can’t afford not to put those lessons into practice.”

Meanwhile, Prof Macpherson said: “We see it as part of our role to give others the benefit of our experiences. That’s not to say we’ve got it all right. We are always learning and trying to improve things. However, we’ve had the programme for around 10 years so we are very happy to share our knowledge with people who would be interested in learning with us.”

The progress achieved by Childsmile has led to interest from Australia, Chile, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand and others. Prof Macpherson and her team were also asked to arrange a workshop for six Balkan countries with dental health problems.

Indicating the Irish interest, Prof Macpherson has been invited to address the Irish Society of Dentistry for Children annual scientific meeting (see below).

Reiterating the readiness to pass on lessons learned, she said: “All of us at Childsmile would be very happy to talk with anyone who wants to hear more about
the programme.” Lessons of hope – page 20

Scientific meeting focus on challenges of children’s oral health 

Professor Marie Therese Hosey, head of paediatric dentistry at King’s College London, will give the opening address at this year’s Irish Society for Dentistry for Children annual scientific meeting.

The event, on 10 May, at Portlaoise Town, Co Laois, is set against the backdrop of some of the worst figures yet seen for children’s oral health both north and south of the border.

Prof Hosey will talk on the challenge of early childhood caries and discuss the options for how this major problem can be tackled.

She will be followed by Professor Lorna Macpherson, head of dental public health at the Dental School, Glasgow, and director of the Childsmile programme who will give a detailed insight into the challenges faced by the initiative, how it has worked, the latest results and how it could be applied in both the ROI and Northern Ireland.

For more information on the event or to register, please go to

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Published: 4 May, 2018 at 13:49