Oral health: policy context

The Scottish Government’s Quality Strategy aims to realise the 2020 Vision of achieving sustainable quality in the delivery of healthcare services across Scotland. All healthcare policy is currently aligned to drive the delivery of these three Quality Ambitions: 

  1. Safe - There will be no avoidable injury or harm to people from healthcare, and an appropriate, clean and safe environment will be provided for the delivery of healthcare services at all time
  2. Person-Centred - Mutually beneficial partnerships between patients, their families and those delivering healthcare services which respect individual needs and values and which demonstrates compassion, continuity, clear communication and shared decision-making
  3. Effective - The most appropriate treatments, interventions, support and services will be provided at the right time to everyone who will benefit, and wasteful or harmful variation will be eradicated

Improving access for dental treatment is one component of the Quality Strategy that has received considerable attention in recent years.

There is a specific HEAT Target for oral health that at least 60% of 3- and 4-year-old children in each Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile should receive at least two applications of fluoride varnish (FV) per year by March 2014. Fluoride varnish provides extra protection against tooth decay when used in addition to brushing teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste.

NHS boards have also been working towards the Scottish Government's target that 60% of P1 and P7 children should have no obvious caries experience by 2010. All NHS boards have met this target for both P1 and P7 children since 2012 and 2011 respectively.

Childsmile is a programme to improve the dental health of children inScotland and is split into three main elements:

  • Childsmile Core programme, which involves nursery and school toothbrushing schemes, and distributes free toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste in the first five years of life
  • Childsmile Practice programme, involving clinical prevention activities
  • Childsmile Nursery and School programmes, involving the application of fluoride varnish to nursery school children's teeth.