Oral Health

Dental decay is a serious problem in young people – and it is largely preventable. In 2017 in England, almost a quarter of five year olds had experienced tooth decay, having an average of 3 or 4 decayed teeth. Figures suggest that more than 105 children a day have their teeth removed in hospital due to tooth decay. 


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 and their parents to understand the importance of cleaning their teeth with fluoride toothpaste 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

Oral Health Foundations Dental Buddy resources: The Dental Buddy programme hosts a series of educational resources for Early Years' Education Key Stage One and Key State Two. It includes activity sheets, lesson plans and interactive presentations.

PACEY's nutrition spotlight: Nutrition, encouraging healthy eating habits, and learning about food is important, particularly in the early years.

Supervised tooth brushing programme: A toolkit to support commissioning of supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years settings and schools.

A resource to support commissioners and providers of supervised tooth brushing programmes in schools and early years settings in England: A PHE toolkit to support supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years and school settings.

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.

Children’s Oral Health e-learning: NHS e-learning for Health, the Royal College of Surgeons of England and University College London, have produced a free, easy access module giving children’s oral health care advice for all. For more information about the e-learning programme and for details of how to access it visit go to their website.