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Parents are a massive influence on oral health

A new survey from the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) has found that most children learn how to look after their teeth from their parents.

According to the research, more than two in three children (68 per cent) are taught by their mums, while five per cent took wisdom from their dads. 

A fifth of those surveyed (18 per cent) were self taught, while a smaller proportion were taught by a sibling or learnt it at school. However, the research found that many parents may not be teaching their children about oral health early enough.

It found that less than half (45 per cent) of those included in the study taught their children how to brush their teeth before the age of two, while nearly a quarter (23 per cent) went over dental health with their child when they were between two and five years old.

The research cites a recent report from the Health & Social Care Information Centre, which highlights the importance of teaching good dental hygiene at a young age. It found that 12 per cent of three-year-olds have visible tooth decay, while more than a quarter (27 per cent) of five-year-olds are suffering with the same problem.

Speaking about the findings, chief executive of the BDHF Dr Nigel Carter OBE emphasised why it is so important for parents to teach their children about oral health early on.

He said: “Your child’s oral health plays a key part in their early years’ wellbeing, and your help and support will go a long way to ensuring they remain on the right path. Numerous studies have shown that children who learn good habits early are far more likely to carry them into adulthood and the ability to pick up a solid oral health routine is no different.”

Dr Carter added that even young children should have regular visits to the dentist and that parents should be the “first line” of education when it comes to teaching children good oral health practices.

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