Childsmile dental scheme 'saves NHS £5m a year'
A scheme to improve children's dental health is saving almost £5m a year in treatment costs, Scotland's public health minister has said.
Childsmile offers young children free toothbrushes, toothpaste and two fluoride varnish applications per year.
Children attending nursery, and those in primary schools in deprived areas, are offered daily supervised brushing.
Public health minister Maureen Watt said it was a "tremendous example of spending to save".
In addition to free dental treatments, the scheme gives parents and adult carers dietary advice to help them prevent tooth decay.
The number of primary one children with "no obvious decay experience" has risen from 54% in 2006 to 68% in 2014.
'Focus on prevention'
Ms Watt said the scheme had led to substantial savings in treatment costs because fewer children required extractions, fillings and general anaesthetics.
She said: "We've made great progress since 2007 in improving access to NHS dentists - with 92% of Scottish children now registered.
"The success of the Childsmile programme speaks for itself, saving millions of pounds and making such a difference to youngsters' oral health.
"This is a really tremendous example of spending to save. The Childsmile programme show's what can be achieved when we have a real focus on prevention - in particular in the world of public health."