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Getting back in the school routine and being mindful of dental health

We had a brilliant summer. Now we are back to school and work. Routine is back on track again and the holidays feel like they never even happened.
One thing that never lost its importance was brushing our teeth. As a former dental nurse, I am aware of the importance of teaching effective brushing techniques to children and supervising their brushing to ensure it is completed properly.

The tooth fairy has been busy this summer and Matthew and Anya have lost 2 teeth each. Gappy smiles are difficult to clean!
Matthew in particular had his new adult teeth grown up behind the milk teeth at the bottom (imagine a shark with the rows of teeth!) This was awful to clean as food would get trapped in the gap but thankfully he now just has one at the front that I am desperately trying to get him wobbling every day!
Anya has her new teeth at the gumline as they have only just erupted. This means that poor brushing might miss them so a little bit of extra care is required to angle the brush correctly.

Zach is only 3 so whilst he likes to think he is grown up enough to clean his teeth, in reality I brush them after he has ‘finished’.
Zach also has an incredibly sweet tooth and nags me for biscuits and cake throughout the day. I try to restrict these to a single snack time or meal to minimise the potential damge to his teeth. Meanwhile Matthew and Anya have discovered fizzy drinks and are allowed them on special occasions with a meal.
Here is some information proivided by SimplyHealth on the dental health of children in the UK and I was genuinely quite shocked:


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.
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 statistic 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. 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.
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.
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.

Commenting on the figures, Head Dental Officer at Simplyhealth, Dr Catherine Rutland said:
“It’s disappointing to hear that so many children are missing out on lessons at school as a result of tooth decay, especially as it’s a problem that can be so easily avoided. A regular family brushing routine, before and after school, is so important to reduce the risk of needing dental work at a young age and sets up strong habits for your little ones later in life. Brushing first thing in the morning before breakfast can help busy families to ensure that they get a proper brush before school, while the night-time brush cleans away plaque bacteria and food debris accumulated throughout the day so that it doesn’t sit on the teeth while they sleep.
“I would also encourage parents to look for low-sugar alternatives when packing lunchboxes and swap sweets for carrot sticks and fruit juices for water. Cheese is a great lunchbox snack to finish a meal with as it can naturally rebalance the pH level in your mouth, meaning less harmful acid and reducing the chances of tooth decay.”
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.
Dr Catherine Rutland comments, “Sugary or fizzy drinks should only be consumed occasionally as a treat, and definitely never at bedtime. Drinking something with high sugar content leaves your children vulnerable to tooth decay. Less saliva is produced at night and so the teeth will be bathed in sugar and acid while they sleep. If your child needs a drink at night, always give them water.”
Dr Rutland urges parents to visit the dentist with their family at least once every six months. Regular visits help children get into a good oral health routine, as well as ensuring that any problems or early signs of tooth decay are detected at an early stage. Dentists can also advise parents on the best products for children’s teeth and provide some fun brushing techniques too.

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
Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019. Online survey of 5083 adults conducted by Dynata (formally Research Now SSI) on behalf of Simplyhealth, undertaken 24 January – 5 February 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (18+).
** Children’s section of the survey: Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019. Online survey of 1014 adult parents conducted by Dynata (formally Research Now SSI) on behalf of Simplyhealth, undertaken 24 January – 31 January 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (18+).

*I was provided with the above information by SimplyHealth and received some dental goodies

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