A pioneering scheme to improve children's dental health is being rolled out in Airedale.

The Smile with the Prophet programme aims to introduce the Prophet Mohammed as a role model to encourage youngsters to look after their teeth and eat well.

The project, introduced in Bradford in 2001, is run by dental services oral health teams from Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust.

Using a specially developed syllabus, the programme helps to spread the word in mosques about oral health, encouraging youngsters to brush their teeth daily through the teachings of the Prophet and Islam.

The teaching plan has six sessions, developing oral health messages and how they fit in with Islamic teachings such as cleaning your teeth before prayer and not eating or drinking to excess.

An activity book containing puzzles, drawings and information is given to each child, along with a book bag, toothpaste and a toothbrush.

"The oral health of young children in Bradford and Airedale is poor compared to neighbouring areas and nationally - with more than half of children having experienced dental disease," said oral health promoter Sharon Newton.

"The programme aims to encourage children to brush their teeth twice every day with fluoride toothpaste and helps mosque teachers to take a lead role in educating their peers and helping their communities to have better oral health."

She added that diet was also an important aspect of good dental health.

"One of the sessions focuses on food and the importance of having sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes only and drinking plain milk or water instead in between meals.

"And children should choose healthy snacks between meals and try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

"Following the success of this programme in the Bradford area, we are now going to work with mosques in Airedale.

"People think it's a great idea and a good resource for their community and we hope to build on this success in Keighley."

More than 260 children have already completed the programme at the Ukim-Madina Mosque in Keighley.

Mohammed Iqbal, from the mosque, said: "It's great, as both the children and adults learn how important this issue is. And as well as learning the importance of cleaning their teeth, the children really enjoyed the sessions."

The project's success means it is now being used by oral health teams across the country.