SENIOR councillors have been asked to approve a £120,000 a year drive to improve dental health - especially among children.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board will debate the issue on Thursday.

Its health boss Cllr Damian Talbot tells colleagues ina report: "Blackburn with Darwen has the highest proportion of five-year-olds experiencing decay in England, with 51 per cent having at least one decayed missing or filled teeth.

"Good oral health has an important role in positive general health and wellbeing for children, vulnerable adults and the elderly.

"Prevention is a multifaceted approach involving education; healthcare; dental services; young people’s services; the community, voluntary and faith sector; and public health.

"The strategy also includes elderly residents in care homes as a target group requiring improved oral health care support.

"The main focus of the strategy is on prevention.

A commitment of £120,000 per annum has been ring fenced for an Oral Health Improvement Service for a two year contract with the option to extend for a further two years pending satisfactory performance. "The Oral Health Improvement Service will commence April 2022."

The strategy recommends steps including: oral health training for the professional workforce in health and education; the integration of oral health into targeted home visits by health and social workers;. targeted community-based fluoride varnish programmes; targeted provision of toothbrushes and toothpaste; supervised tooth brushing in childhood settings; healthy food and drink policies in childhood settings; and the fluoridation of public water supplies.

Cllr Kevin Connor, the health spokesman for the council Conservative Group said: "These figures are shocking and shameful. This problem has gone on for far too long.’