We've signed up to a new campaign to promote healthier drink choices for under 5s across the borough.
Kind to Teeth, which has been launched across the country as part of this year's National Smile Month, highlights the importance of just drinking milk and water for children under 5.
What the figures tell us
Recent figures show that 47% of 5-year-olds in Rochdale show some degree of tooth decay – and sugary drinks are a major contributor to the problem.
When sugar is consumed in sugary drinks, it can cause a whole host of health issues on top of tooth decay, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. Lots of sugar can be hiding in juices and other sugary drinks targeted at babies and young children.
Why we're taking action
Councillor Sara Rowbotham, our cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Improving the health of Rochdale's young children is a key priority for us. As adults we know that reducing the amount of sugar we eat and drink is important, but it is easy to forget our responsibility to babies and young children in this.
"47% of our 5 year olds start school with dental decay, and a nearly a quarter of children are an unhealthy weight by the time they start school. Tackling unhealthy drink habits is a crucial preventative measure to protect our young children against poor dental health and weight gain."
The early years matter
Andrea Fallon, our director of public health, said: "The early years is a fantastic window of opportunity to influence healthy food and drink patterns. Allowing young children to become accustomed to sweet tastes from an early age can have negative effect on their dental health and can lead to problems in later life.
"The work taking place across Rochdale helps to educate parents and establish good habits in young children. We hope our ongoing work will help to influence healthy lifestyle choices and ensure that children grow into fit and healthy adults."
There's plenty going on
Along with the Kind to Teeth campaign, there are a number of schemes in place across the borough to promote good oral hygiene in babies and children.
Expectant mums are given dental packs and are told what they should do to help their baby to have a healthy mouth. Dental packs including toothpaste and a toothbrush are given out by health visitors and at nurseries and parents are encouraged to take their children to the dentist regularly. A Greater Manchester wide programme, Baby Teeth Do Matter, is also in place and is delivering tooth brushing in schools for 3-5-year-olds.
Pictured above is Rochdale's Healthy Hero Rochelle with the team at Derby Street Children's Centre.