Early years settings should teach children how to clean their teeth

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Nursery children at high risk of poor oral health should be given lessons on how to brush their teeth, recommends new advice.

toothbrushing

NICE recommends nursery staff supervise children brushing their teeth

The guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says local authorities should consider commissioning a supervised tooth-brushing scheme in nurseries and children’s centres in deprived areas where children are at risk of poor oral health.

Targeted at children from the age of three, the scheme would be used to establish and promote good tooth-brushing habits.

It follows a recent Public Health England survey, which found that children in deprived areas are more likely to show signs of tooth decay.

Under the scheme, early years staff would be expected to supervise children from the age of three brushing their teeth every day, as well as work with parents to encourage children to brush their teeth at home.

NICE recommends a similar tooth-brushing scheme also be introduced in primary schools.

Elizabeth Kay, foundation dean for the Peninsula Dental School in Plymouth, said, ‘Around 25, 000 young children every year are admitted to hospital to have teeth taken out. Given that we know how to prevent dental disease this really should not be happening.

‘If there were a preventable medical condition which caused thousands of young children, mostly around five years old, to end up in hospital to have body parts removed there would be an outcry.

‘These guidelines offer local authorities an opportunity and evidence as to how they can stop the most vulnerable children and adults in their areas from suffering from the pain, trauma and lifetime negative effects of tooth decay.’

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