Population Health Program - Lift the Lip

Early childhood decay is a severe and rapidly progressing form of tooth decay that affects infants and young children. It is the most common chronic disease of childhood, and is a predictor of dental decay in permanent teeth.

This decay is preventable.

Lift the Lip is a population health program that aims to improve the early intervention, prevention and referral of dental decay in young children.

This program seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of Tasmanian children by:

  • Providing general health professionals with enhanced skills and resources so they can provide families with preventive oral health advice from pregnancy onwards.
  • Ensuring early management of dental disease.
  • Increasing the family focus in oral health services.
  • Establishing prompt and appropriate referral pathways for children with identified dental disease.

Identifying early childhood decay

A simple 'Lift the Lip' screening and referral tool and anticipatory guidance tool is available to identify children (six months to five years) with early signs of tooth decay.

Who can use the tool to refer children for priority dental care?

  • Child Health and Parenting Nurses
  • Practice Nurses
  • General Practitioners (GP)
  • Aboriginal health workers
  • Early childhood professionals
  • Other health professionals

Tooth decay in this age group is easy to identify as it usually starts in the outer surfaces of the top front teeth.

Screening for tooth decay involves simply lifting the top lip and checking the outer surface of the top front teeth.

Evidence shows that preventive measures (such as the application of fluoride) can prevent the progress of decay if identified early.

Lift the Lip for Parents

Parents can also check their child's teeth for early signs of decay by simply lifting the child's top lip and checking the surfaces of the top front teeth.

How does the referral process work?

If a child is identified as requiring a referral, and the parent/carer chooses to attend Oral Health Services Tasmania (OHST), the Oral Health Referral and Advice Form should be completed and emailed to liftthelip@ths.tas.gov.au.

Parents/carers who choose to attend a private dental sector professional will need to contact their preferred provider.

On receipt of the referral

Oral Health Services Tasmania will contact the parent/carer to arrange a dental appointment at their local OHST dental clinic.

Feedback to the referring professional will occur at completion of treatment or failure to attend appointment.

For more information please refer to Lift the Lip Referral Pathway for Health Professionals

Resources for Health Professionals