How are your children’s teeth? Do you help them to brush correctly? Are they up-to-date with their dental check-ups? Do you worry about snacking between meals?
According to parents surveyed, one in ten (10%) British children have missed a full day of school to receive treatment due to tooth decay, new research reveals. That sounds crazy to me!
The Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey* highlighted a number of statistics regarding children’s oral health habits. For parents who had a child admitted to hospital for tooth extraction, nearly one in five (19%) said their child had needed a total of four teeth extracting due to tooth decay.
The statistics come as the Government announces plans for a consultation on introducing a tooth brushing scheme in primary schools,**with nearly a third of parents (32%) saying they would like their child to receive daily tooth brushing sessions at school. This scheme has actually been carried out in Welsh schools for many years, something my children have benefited from, so this seems slow of the mark for the rest of the UK if I’m honest. What took the Government so long?
Furthermore, 48% of parents said they would like their child to receive oral health education in school from dental professionals, and 35% said they’d like oral health education from teachers. In addition, 41% of parents said they would like to see dental check-ups at school – again, this is something that has been routine in my children’s school for many years.
The survey also explored the problems parents face when trying to get their children to brush their teeth regularly and correctly, with 64% of respondents saying getting their child to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day, was their biggest challenge.
This can be hard as a parent and I always think you needs a good ‘box of tricks’ to get you through the various stages many children go through with tooth brushing. Getting them to choose their own toothbrush may help, buying their favourite colour, or even an electric toothbrush may help for a while as well. Making a game out of tooth brushing can help some children, and even having a brushing ‘competition’ with a parent or sibling.
You could have a sticker chart they can get points on for good brushing, where they receive a small prize when they get all their stickers. Whatever works for your child – just be prepared to change your approach every couple of weeks.
More than one in five (21%) children brush just once a day or less, and 13% of children aged seven and under are brushing their own teeth unsupervised, contrary to advice that children aged seven and under should be supervised while brushing, or have an adult brush their teeth for them.
Preparing tooth-friendly school lunchboxes could also prove tricky for parents this school year, as 37% admit they find ensuring their children have tooth-friendly snacks and (41%) drinks a struggle. Biscuits (28%), sweets/chocolates (16%), and fizzy drinks (7%) all featuring in the lunchboxes of those surveyed.
It seems it’s not just during the school day where teeth are at risk though, as 30% of parents said their child often or always takes a drink to bed with them, of which, shockingly, one in ten (10%) admitted that their children takes a fizzy drink to bed. Furthermore, 24% said their child takes squash or cordial to bed, and 15% take fruit juice to bed.
Simplyhealth, the experts behind Denplan payment plans, who commissioned this research, is working in partnership with charities such as Teeth Team to help improve the oral health of primary school aged children in socially deprived communities. To find out more visit www.teethteam.org.uk To read the full report visit: https://www.simplyhealth.co.uk/COHS .