Tooth Brushing Lessons’ for Nursery Aged Children

22nd October 2014

In a bid to counter the worsening dental health crisis in socially underprivileged portions of the UK, experts have declared that children old enough to go to nursery should be taught lessons on how to brush their teeth. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is suggesting that local authorities target children as young as three. Research shows that 12 per cent of three-year-olds are already consuming too much sugar and displaying signs of tooth decay.

Experts warn that poor oral hygiene is named as one of the contributing factors in diabetes, heart disease and even cancer in later life, despite significant improvements over the past 40 years.
Older people, in particular those who are reliant on carers, are also at risk of the development of gum disease and tooth decay, and these two conditions can easily be prevented. Director of the centre for public health at NICE, Professor Mike Kelly, has said that children aged three and upwards face a life with rotten teeth, poor health and gum disease as they move toward adulthood.

He went on to say that many young children have poor diets and poor oral health because there is a lack of understanding about how important it is to look after children’s milk teeth and gums. He feels that children consume too much sugar, and often do not brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Professor Kelly thinks that society should assist parents and carers to provide their children with a great start in life, acting now to stop tooth decay before it even starts. According to the Health and Social Information Centre, the 10 per cent that is most disadvantaged in the country accounts for almost a fifth of all hospital admissions for dental surgery. According to foundation dean of the Peninsula Dental School in Plymouth, Elizabeth Kay, approximately 25,000 young children every year are admitted to hospital for dental procedures.

Professor Kay feels that this should not be happening, given that we know how to prevent dental disease. She points out that if there were a preventable medical condition that young caused children to have to be admitted to hospital for body part amputations, there would be an uproar. 

Public Health England’s director of dental public health, Dr Sandra White, says that one in eight children of age three have suffered from dental disease, despite the improvement in children’s oral health over the past 40 years. In many cases, children have had to have teeth removed under general anaesthetic.

Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, in order to prevent gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. Dental hygienists have specific guidelines on how to brush teeth. They suggest putting a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto your toothbrush, and to use small circular movements whilst cleaning each tooth individually. Hard to reach teeth must not be missed. It’s important not to brush too hard, and to remember to clean along the gum line as well as the teeth themselves.