Almost four million under 14s in the UK are at risk of developing serious oral health problems due to inadequate tooth-brushing supervision, according to a leading oral health charity.
Results of a new poll carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation found more than one in three (37 per cent) parents said they stopped supervising their children’s tooth brushing before the age of seven.
Guidelines from the NHS advise parents to supervise their children while brushing their teeth up until at least the age of seven, this ensures they are doing it effectively and for the correct amount of time.
The charity believes a lack of effective supervision could be one of the contributing factors in the current children’s dental health crisis we are experiencing the UK.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation 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 from 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. All 20 baby teeth should usually appear by the age of two.
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.
It is also important to make sure that children do not rinse with water after brushing but spit out the toothpaste. This ensures the fluoride stays in the mouth for longer and is more effective.
“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,” added Dr Carter.
“As well as tooth brushing supervision, parents can also prevent serious oral health problems by limiting the frequency which children consume sugary foods.”