Banyule Community Health has been working in partnership with Dental Health Services Victoria on the Smiles 4 Miles Program since September 2012, raising awareness about the importance of healthy eating and oral health promotion amongst kindergarten children in Banyule.
Oral diseases can cause pain and discomfort and negatively affect general health and quality of life . Alarmingly, 26.6% of Victorian children aged 5-12 years have had their teeth filled, 11.7% have had teeth removed and 7.1% have had dental treatment requiring a general anaesthetic in hospital .
One of our local kindergartens; Bundoora Preschool, has been participating in the Smiles 4 Miles program since December 2012. They have enjoyed working in partnership with Banyule Community Health and the Smiles 4 Miles program because of the key themes and engaging activities the program utilises to reinforce the healthy message, including:
- Drink plenty of tap water
- Limit sugary and fizzy drink
- Plain milk is preferred to flavoured
- Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods
- Limit sugary foods, especially between meals
- Choose fresh foods rather than processed foods
- Brush twice a day with a low fluoride (children’s) toothpaste
- Parents should assist children to brush their teeth up to the ages of 6-7 years of age
- Ensure children have regular dental check-ups
Ros Doutre has been an Early Childhood Teacher for a number of years and believes that if you start educating and engaging children about healthy eating and oral health from a young age, they will experience better health as an adult. By implementing programs such as Smiles 4 Miles in the kindergarten setting, you also get the opportunity to engage parents and the broader community about key health messages which in turn, has the capacity to encourage positive behaviour change.
Some of the ways Bundoora Preschool has engaged parents in the Smiles 4 Miles program includes hosting a “Sugar in Drinks” demonstration for parents which aimed to raise awareness as to why water and milk are the best drinks for children, as opposed to fruit juices, flavoured milks, cordial, etc. Healthy Eating displays were placed in the kindergarten entry to showcase healthy lunchbox options, which received positive feedback from parents. A visit from one of our BCH Dentists to show children how to brush their teeth correctly (later in Term 3, early Term 4) will be a highlight, helping to promote the “Clean Well” message.
- Revision of the nutrition policy to include oral health promotion
- Strengthened community partnerships and referral pathways
- Advocacy for healthy eating and oral health
- Parent engagement
For more information click here to go to our Dental Page