Oral health plays an important role in the general health and wellbeing of children. Tooth decay is largely preventable however, it remains the most common oral disease affecting children and young people. It can impact on children’s eating habits, smiling and sleeping. Latest figures from Public Health England revealed a child in England has a rotten tooth removed in hospital every 10 minutes. That’s almost 40,000 a year! The 2013 oral health survey of three year olds found that 12% had experienced dental decay. On average, children had three teeth affected. Around 1 in 4 five year olds suffer from tooth decay with three or four affected teeth.
As early years settings you play a key role in promoting the following oral health messages to families to reduce the incidence of dental caries:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (once before bedtime and once during the day)
- Brushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears and children should be supervised up to the age of seven
- Take children to the dentist as soon as their first tooth appears and go as often as their dentist recommends
This year’s National Smile Month campaign will run from Monday 14th May through to Thursday 14th June. The campaign is a fantastic opportunity to promote key messages on good oral health to families. To help you promote National Smile Month we have 4 weekly challenges for your setting to take part in. As part of our competition we want your setting to review how you share positive oral health messages with children and families.
Week 1 (Monday May 14th) Create a an eye-catching display to highlight the importance and how to maintain good oral health for children and adults .
Week 2 (Monday 21st May) Run an activity session with children, emphasising the need to brush twice a day for 2 minutes (you could get them practice brushing their own teeth, a model set or teddies).
Week 3 (Monday the 28th May) Run a practical activity with children and families to highlight healthy, tooth– friendly drink and snack choices.
Week 4 (Monday the 4th June) Promote the dentist and how often you should visit the dentist to children and their families in a creative way.
Aim – your activity should promote:
- Key oral health messages to ensure all families in your setting are aware of: a) the when to start brushing children’s teeth, b) when to register with the dentist, c) how often to brush teeth
- Healthy eating and drinking messages from the Wellbeing and Nutrition to reduce the risk of dental caries.
- Healthy eating and drinking in line with the national food and drink guidelines linked to your menu and food and drink policy
What We’d Like to See:
- Creativity and imagination in promoting oral health in your setting to parents
- How you to talk to children about brushing their teeth
- Highlight best drinks, snacks linked to improved dental health
How to Enter:
The competition is open to Children Centre’s, Nurseries and Childminders. Please submit your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 15th June and title it ‘Wellbeing and Nutrition Team- Oral Health Competition’.
The winner, judged by our Early Start panel, will receive our oral health hamper full of goodies that will support you to embed oral health messages in your setting. If you’re not a winner, don’t worry, the competition provides settings with the opportunity to update displays and new resources with the aim of promoting good oral health to children and their families. Keep an eye on our social media accounts for more ideas and top tips.