Tuesday 01 May 2018


Nine Early Childhood Services within Bass Coast Shire and South Gippsland Shire have received a Smiles 4 Miles award this month, which recognises the work they have done to improve the oral health of some of our youngest community members.


Smiles 4 Miles is an oral health promotion program for kindergarten-aged children developed by Dental Health Services Victoria and implemented in partnership with Bass Coast Health (BCH) throughout the Bass Coast Shire and South Gippsland Shires.


Health services achieve the Smiles 4 Miles award by implementing healthy eating and oral health policies, engaging with families about the importance of oral health and educating children through a variety of fun learning experiences based on the Smiles 4 Miles key messages – Drink well, Eat well and Clean well.


BCH’s Health Promotion Officer Phoebe Ruffin says the program is a great way to help children have healthy teeth and gums for life.


“Good habits are formed early, and children take lessons they learn at a young age with them right up to adulthood. By promoting good oral health behaviours early in life, we can decrease the likelihood of poor oral health later in life,” Phoebe said.


The following pre-schools across Bass Coast and South Gippsland Shires have received their Smiles for Miles Award; San Remo Pre-School, Bass Coast Children’s Centre, Allora Pre-School, Hassett Street Pre-School, Karmai Community Children’s Centre, Leongatha Children’s Centre, Meeniyan Pre-School, Toora/Welshpool Pre School and JLM Pre-School. This means the program is now directly reaching 1,849 children and their associated family and carer groups.


Karmai Community Childrens Centre’s Operational Manager Sue Ritchie stated, “Karmai Kindergarten program has been running the Smiles 4 Miles program for a few years.  In 2017 our long day care program joined Smiles 4 Miles, as many of the educators were passionate about healthy eating and oral health. At staff meetings our kindergarten staff began sharing their knowledge about healthy eating and oral health. We soon realised that it was important for all staff to be trained in Smiles 4 Miles so that we could fully understand and implement Smiles 4 Miles across all our programs”. 


At the Karmai Community Children’s Centre the Smile 4 Miles program has been embedded into its daily program. They are working towards furthering the wellbeing of children, families and staff by introducing family pantry, a kitchen garden program, a fitness program and dental health checks through their local public dental service.

Sue Ritchie said, “We see the program as an extension of educating - not only for the children, but for families and staff as well.  We would like to extend a huge thank you to Phoebe Ruffin and the team from Bass Coast Health and our Kinder Team for sharing the knowledge and passion.”


Remember the three steps to healthy teeth and gums!

  1. Drink well- Drink tap water or plain milk and avoid sugary drinks like cordials, juices and soft drinks
  2. Eat well- Eat a variety of nutritious foods each day and limit sugary foods, particularly between meals
  3. Clean well- Brush teeth twice daily, adults should help children until at least the age of 7.

For more information about the Smiles 4 Miles program, please contact BCH Health Promotion Officer Phoebe Ruffin by emailing