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Oral Health (Children)

Scottish Executive Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 15th April 2010.

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Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour 11:40 am, 15th April 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to improve oral health in children. (S3O-10082)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Since 2005, the Scottish Government has been working on a number of ways to tackle poor oral health in children. We have launched a number of Government-funded successful projects across Scotland, from healthy eating schemes in primary and secondary schools to the comprehensive childsmile programme.

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour

A young person in my constituency recently had 10 tooth extractions, which is unacceptable, and there are many other such cases throughout Scotland. What action has been taken to inform parents, to ensure that they take responsibility for their children's oral health? What action is taken to deal with parents who do not accept the message that they must ensure that their children have good oral health?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

A range of education and awareness programmes make clear to parents their responsibility for looking after their children's health in general—and for the purposes of this question, their children's oral health in particular. The childsmile school programme is important in ensuring that all children have access to preventive care interventions in primary 1 and 2. The programme is operating successfully in schools throughout Scotland.

Although I would never downplay the seriousness of constituency cases such as that which Paul Martin has just raised, the figures throughout Scotland give us optimism that children's oral health is improving. In 2008, almost 60 per cent of primary 1 children were found to have no obvious dental decay, which is the best result for that age group in Scotland since records began. There is a considerable amount of work still to do, but I am encouraged by the fact that we are going in the right direction.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

That concludes general questions. Before we move to the next item of business, Parliament will wish to note that I have written to the consul general for Poland, asking that he pass on the condolences of the entire Parliament to the Polish people, both here and in Poland, following the tragic plane crash in Smolensk last week.