Kind to Teeth Parent Champions trained in Blackburn to help promote healthy smiles in the early years

Kind to Teeth Parent Champions trained in Blackburn to help promote healthy smiles in the early years

The Kind to Teeth Parent Champions project returned to Blackburn with Darwen for National Smile Month, training 20 new parent champions to help tackle tooth decay in young children.

The Kind to Teeth Parent Champions project is delivered by Food Active, aimed at training parents and carers with children under 5 to support local parents with advice on suitable drink choices to help protect their little one’s teeth.

This follows a successful pilot of the project last year, where 6 parent champions were trained in the local community and fed back positive experiences of engaging with other local parents on the issue of sugary drinks and oral health.

Funded by Blackburn with Darwen’s public health team, the campaign will return this summer and be promoted by 20 ‘Kind to Teeth Parent Champions’ – local parents living in the borough who over the next four weeks will be advising local parents and passing friendly advice and support on through social media networks and where possible face to face when attending baby sessions at our children’s centres, on how to promote good oral health for their children after attending a two-day training course at Bangor Street Community Centre. The training also coincided with the return of National Smile Month, a nation-wide, month long campaign to promote good oral health.

The Kind to Teeth Parent Champions project is part of the council’s new oral health strategy which was also launched this month, which aims to address the issue of tooth decay across the borough.

The ‘Parent Champions’ model is delivered by parents for parents, with the support of a local authority, children’s centre, school or local community organisation. It uses the knowledge that parents trust other parents for information about childcare, to reach out to those who do not access services and to ensure that information is received by all those who need it.

Cllr Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, and Chair of the Oral Health Strategy Group, said:

“The Kind to Teeth Parent Champions did a fantastic job during the project’s run last year and I am thrilled to see them return this month. They really help parents and carers in a friendly, supportive way and give great advice on the best ways to have healthy teeth.

“This runs alongside all the work we are doing through our new Oral Health Strategy, and we believe the Parent Champions are one of the best ways to get advice and support to parents. If it is done as early as possible it can lead to better habits around brushing and food and drink choices to give children better, healthier teeth and smiles.”

Cllr Jackie Floyd, Chair of Blackburn with Darwen Food Alliance, said:

“This project really fits in with one of the aims of the Blackburn with Darwen Food Alliance (at, which is good food and drink for everyone, everyday, and which aims to create positive habits which have long term impacts on health including oral health. It’s also great to see that Olive Practice have embraced this work and are making the links with the parents attending their services. 

“Many families don’t realise how much sugar can be in some drinks, as it’s not fully explained in a lot of packaging or ingredients. Even drinks that are marketed as healthy such as flavoured water can have a lot of sugar in them. This can lead to poor dental health and tooth decay which causes lots of problems for children.

“Information like this, along with advice on tooth brushing and good oral health is where our Kind to Teeth Parent Champions come in. It’s often really positive to get advice from other parents or people we might know, and this can make a real difference in helping people change some habits that might not be the best for their teeth and their family’s teeth.”


The early years are a great opportunity to influence healthy drink choices which can have a positive impact on oral health. Yet many young children in Blackburn with Darwen are experiencing tooth decay from an early age.

20% of three year olds in Blackburn with Darwen have experience of visually obvious tooth decay. This rises to 50% by the time they start school at the age of 4-5 years old[3] – and sugary drinks are a major part of this growing problem. An analysis of over 200 fruit juices marketed to under-5’s found that almost half contained at least a child’s entire daily recommended maximum sugar intake of 19g.

Not only can this have a negative impact on young children’s oral health, but it can lead to children becoming accustomed to sweet tastes which may lead to further health complications later in life such as weight gain, obesity and chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes[4].

To combat this, Food Active and Blackburn with Darwen Council and children’s centres have teamed up to create a new project that harnessing the power of peer-to-peer support to spread the message that milk or water are the best sources of hydration for babies and infants.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about this approach, please email

[1] Food Active is a regional charity which aims to make it easier for children, young people and families to lead a healthy lifestyle through changes to their local environment. They are also the delivery partner for the Pennine Lancashire Healthier Place, Healthier Future Trailblazer. For more information, please visit:

[2] The Give Up Loving Pop campaign aims to raise awareness of the health harms of consuming too many sugary drinks, and promoting milk and water as healthier alternatives.

[3] Public Health England (2019) Oral health profiles: fingertips data [online].

[4] NHS England (2020) Sugar and health: the facts [online]


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