Written Answers. - Oral Health Strategy.

Seán Power

Ceist:

172 Mr. Power asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will give consideration to the provision of a toothbrush to pupils in all national schools. [3627/00]

The evidence available to my Department indicates that lack of ownership of a toothbrush is not a significant problem regarding children's oral hygiene practices. The real problem is that children do not brush their teeth often enough. In a recent international survey of health and health behaviour among young people carried out by the centre for Health Promotion Studies, National University of Ireland, University College Galway it was found that less than 50% of Irish schoolchildren brush their teeth more than once a day. Children and adults need to brush their teeth at least twice a day with a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste to ensure optimum oral health. The Irish Dental Health Foundation is piloting a number of projects to establish best practice for promoting oral health in schools throughout the country. The results of these studies will assist in developing an oral health promotion strategy for schools that will deal with the issue of the need for free toothbrushes.