Councillors have pledged to get to the root of good oral health in South Tyneside.
Around a quarter of five-year-olds in the borough have tooth decay with stark differences between different areas.
The new South Tyneside Oral Health Strategy, presented to the borough council has set out the foundations to tackle the issue.
This includes reducing oral health inequalities, tackling sugary drinks and tobacco and increasing the availability of tooth brushing schemes.
Lead member for Independence and Wellbeing on the council, Coun Tracey Dixon, said poor oral health can affect people’s ability to “eat, speak, smile and socialise normally.”
The issues, if left unchecked, can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and oral cancers.
Coun Dixon told the meeting: “In South Tyneside these issues remain all too prevalent, particularly in our most deprived communities.
“These issues can then cause more than individual pain and discomfort but actually require more support from already stretched care and health services.”
While oral health has improved in the borough in the last 20 years, the new strategy aims to focus on several key areas.
*A healthy food policy covering vending machines.
*Promoting healthier food choices and stronger links between dentists and stop smoking services.
*Commissioning programmes providing free toothbrushes and toothpaste through health visitors in nurseries
*Extending the ‘healthy teeth award’ to all primary schools
The strategy will run between 2019 – 2024 and will be regularly monitored against an action plan to check its progress.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service