Posted by Yvonne Wallace
Dental practices are being urged by the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) to help them encourage teachers and parents to deliver oral health education to young children.
This is something which can be achieved through dental welcome packs, for example. If practices stressed the importance of children’s oral health to each new patient, it would become a routine commitment at an early stage.
And BDHF believes that children who are taught good oral health habits from a young age are more likely to continue them into later life.
Recent figures reveal a third (33 per cent) of 12-year-olds have cavities and around one in seven (14 per cent) of eight-year-olds have signs of decay in permanent teeth, showing that the provision of oral health education is urgent.
In order to spread the word, BDFH has launched a campaign, along with a website, featuring a spaceman character called Buddy who will explore oral health in partnership with children.
Dentists, teachers and parents can visit the website in order to download free material and resources to begin teaching children about the benefits of taking care of their teeth.
As well as this, the director of educational resources at BDHF Amanda Oakey is asking for dental professionals and teachers to become a buddy themselves and take their expertise into the classroom.
“By working with local practices and oral health teams and sharing their knowledge and experiences, there is every chance to really make a positive difference for many children in the UK, particularly in more deprived areas where inequalities in health are more apparent,” Ms Oakey said.
While oral health levels of children in the UK are generally good, fundamental problems still exist, Ms Oakey continued.
Dental professionals are in a key role which enables them to easily pass on basic lessons directly to children in order to teach them the value of good oral hygiene. For example, encouraging regular checkups, providing toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste and warning about high sugar diets.