Millions of British children face serious risks due to inadequate tooth brushing supervision


According to a leading oral health charity, almost four million under 14's in the UK are at risk of developing serious oral health problems due to inadequate tooth brushing supervision.

Results of a new poll carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation found more than one in three parents (37 per cent) said they stopped supervising their children's tooth brushing before the age of seven.

NHS guidelines advise parents to supervise their children while brushing their teeth up until at least the age of seven to ensure they are doing it effectively and for the correct amount of time.

It is believed by the charity that a lack of effective supervision could be one of the contributing factors in the current children's dental health crisis being experienced in the UK.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes ineffective tooth brushing is one of the fundamental issues in the failing standards of children's dental health.

Dr Carter said: "We are in the midst of a children's dental health epidemic in the UK. New statistics revealed more than 33,000 children were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic in the last year.

"This is a truly inexcusable amount in the modern day.

"Much has been made of the extent which sugar has crept into our diets and snacking habits and while this is a deeply influential factor in decay rates, we also have to look at the daily oral hygiene routine. Ensuring children are properly supervised brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is one very simple and effective way of helping to address the issue.

"Children are simply not being given the opportunity to learn and develop the basic oral health skills and routines they need from an early age, potentially setting them up for a lifetime of poor oral health."

The charity says it is important to get children in the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, as soon as their first teeth start to appear.

First (or 'baby' or ‘milk') teeth usually start to appear when a child is around six months old. By the age of 2, all 20 baby teeth should usually have appeared.

Supervising children's tooth brushing could involve the parent brushing them, if the child is very young, or brushing alongside them so the child can replicate the parent's actions.

Ensuring that children do not rinse with water after brushing but spit out the toothpaste is also important. This ensures the fluoride stays in the mouth for longer and is more effective.

Dr Carter added, "after the age of seven children should have learned how to brush their own teeth properly, but it's still advisable to watch them every now and again to ensure they do it correctly and for two minutes."

"As well as tooth brushing supervision, parents can also prevent serious oral health problems by limiting the frequency with which children consume sugary foods.

"Tooth decay is mainly caused by how often sugar is eaten or drunk, not the amount of sugar or acid in the diet. The more often your child has sugary or acidic foods or drinks, the more likely they are to have decay.

"Try to limit children's sugary and acidic foods to just at mealtimes. A staggering amount of children are visiting hospital to have teeth extracted due to tooth decay, this is really appalling as it is entirely preventable.

"By visiting a dentist regularly, they will be able to provide support, advice and guidance on daily hygiene routines for the whole family."

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