The local Smiles 4 Miles program has partnered with Westernport Water and South Gippsland Water to promote the consumption of tap water in early childhood services.
Smiles 4 Miles is an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria which aims to improve the oral health of children and their families in high risk areas across Victoria.
The key messages promoted in Smiles 4 Miles are Drink well, Eat well and Clean well. The program is implemented locally by the South Coast Prevention Team (Health Promotion workforce of Bass Coast Health, Gippsland Southern Health Service and South Gippsland Hospital).
Tooth decay, an oral disease, affects half of all children and adolescents and is five times more prevalent than asthma. The percentage of children in Bass Coast and South Gippsland aged 0-5 attending public dental services who have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth is 25% and 27%, respectively. Children with tooth decay and poor oral health can have trouble eating, sleeping and paying attention.
Reinforcing the ‘Drink well’ aspect, both Westernport Water and South Gippsland Water champion the Choose Tap message. This state-wide movement highlights the importance of tap water, promoting it as the premier hydration choice for the community’s health.
During Dental Heath Week in August, early childhood services in Bass Coast and South Gippsland emphasised the Drink well message and the benefits of tap water over sugary drinks to children and their families. Four-year-old kindergarten programs were provided with supporting resources, activities, drink bottles courtesy of the local water corporations and the opportunity to enter the draw to win a colouring competition.
“Thank you to everyone who participated in the colouring competition. The lucky winner of the regional competition was Allora Kindergarten! Allora Kindergarten have won the competition prizes, which includes a collection of health promoting books and a dental plush puppet allowing children to practice brushing teeth,” said Beth, local Smiles 4 Miles Coordinator.