Dental decay is a serious problem in young people – and it is largely preventable. In 2015 in England, a quarter of five year olds had experienced tooth decay, having an average of 3 or 4 decayed teeth. Figures suggest that more than 100 operations to remove decayed teeth from children and teenagers take place in UK hospitals every day – and that number is on the increase.
In June 2017, Public Health England published new guidance Health matters: child dental health which sets out clear guidance on how to prevent tooth decay in young people. With children spending an increasing amount of time in childcare, childcare practitioners play an important role in supporting good oral health. You can help reduce tooth decay in children by:
- reducing the consumption of food and drink containing sugars in your settings
- supporting children to be aware of what good oral health means – and helping them to understand the importance of cleaning their teeth and eating healthily
- working with parents to emphasise good oral health, and the importance of visiting the dentist on a regular basis.
We’ve pulled together some key resources to help you support good oral health in your settings:
How to prevent tooth decay in Childcare Professional, Summer 2017, pages 32-34
Early years oral health blog from Public Health England's Jenny Godson
Looking after your children’s teeth – a factsheet from Institute of Health Visiting that can be downloaded free and shared with parents. For more on our work with health visitors, visit our health visitors section.
Health matters: child dental health guidance from Public Health England – summarises risks factors and recent research, including evidence of effective interventions for improving dental health
PACEY's nutrition spotlight: Nutrition, encouraging healthy eating habits, and learning about food is important, particularly in the early years.
A quick guide to a healthy mouth in children: factsheet for parents and carers (Public Health England)
Guidance for early years settings regarding toothbrushing (including usage and storage of toothbrushes)
Information about how to monitor the amount of sugar in children’s diets – plus how to download the Sugar App to see at a glance how much sugar is in food and drink.
Oral Health Promotion in the early years (specific to Warwickshire) - free online course that takes around 35 minutes to complate.