Children’s oral health made a country-wide priority through outreach in schools

03 December 2018 FDI Member

Lithuania joins a rising tide of countries that are pushing to prioritize oral health as an essential element of overall health and well-being through a new project to promote good oral health among young children in Lithuania.

The initiative, called A Promise for a Healthy Smile, was created specifically to combat tooth decay in 7-year-olds in Lithuania. Close to 30,000 children from 881 schools across the country participated. It coincided with the start of the school year in September, offering a fresh start for children to develop a daily oral care routine.

"A Promise for a Healthy Smile represents the child’s promise to brush twice daily; the dentist’s promise to help keep children free from dental caries; and the parents’ promise to take care of their children's teeth."
Alvydas Šeikus, president of the Lithuanian Dental Chamber

The Lithuanian Dental Chamber and the Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Education and Science, implemented this country-wide drive to improve oral health among young children, who currently suffer from high rates of tooth decay.

"In 2016, the prevalence of caries among 12-year-olds was 75%. Among 6-year-olds in pre-school, it was 82%. Our country’s preschoolers and primary school children are significantly behind their peers from other European countries in terms of oral health."
Alvydas Šeikus, president of the Lithuanian Dental Chamber

A closer look

Students received two 31-day calendars and corresponding stickers. To reinforce good oral health habits, children were encouraged to place a sticker on the calendar after brushing their teeth in the morning and before bedtime.

Targeted trainings for public health professionals

To prepare for the outreach efforts, the Lithuanian Dental Chamber and the Ministry of Health held an oral health awareness workshop for 97 public health professionals who coordinate healthcare in schools throughout the country. Following the workshop, public health professionals held presentations in schools to show students how to care for their teeth and teach them about good oral hygiene habits, using the stickers and calendars as visual supports.

One step closer to an integrated health system

The Lithuanian Dental Chamber says it intends to continue its oral health outreach efforts in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Science, firmly establishing oral health as a core component of the public health agenda.

FDI welcomes this development and advocates for oral health to be considered as an essential component of overall health in all countries.