26 Jun 2018 Guest blog: Promoting good oral health in children
Chris Groombridge, Chair of the Teeth Team and MD of 543 Dental Care, located in Yorkshire.
Teeth Team is a school-based supervised tooth-brushing programme, incorporating clinical dental assessments, applications of fluoride varnish and the subsequent signposting for accessing primary and secondary dental care. It is a collaborative working partnership between local dental practices, government, schools and parents in an effort to improve the dental health of children across the country.
The programme has been in existence since 2010, when local dental practices, the salaried dental service and a dental supply company shared concerns relating to the extremely high incidence of dental decay in local children.
Children’s oral health is at the heart of what Teeth Team stands for. When it comes to food and drink we are constantly pushing the messages for ensuring parents do the best for their children.
Our messages are to try and keep drinks and food to mealtimes and avoid giving your child any food or drink with the exception of water in the hour before bed. Aim to limit food and drink that contains sugar including those which are said to be healthy, such as dried fruit, which is sticky and clings to teeth and can be damaging to teeth if frequently consumed between meals. Water should be made regularly available to your child from around the age of 6 months. Your child is less likely to get decay if their teeth are given a rest from food and drinks other than water between meal times.
Never let a baby or small infant drink anything but milk or water from a bottle or a cup with a lid. Letting your small child drink juices, fizzy drinks or sweetened liquids from a lidded cup can lead to severe tooth decay.
When an infant’s teeth have frequent or prolonged exposure to liquids that contain sugar, like sweetened water and fruit, it can damage their teeth, particularly front teeth.
Tooth decay can occur when a baby is put to bed with a bottle containing sugary drinks, or when a bottle is used as a comforter for a fussy baby. The sugary liquids coat the teeth while the child sleeps or is being comforted. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as food – producing acids that attack the teeth. Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids can attack for 20 minutes or longer. Continued use of sugary drinks in lidded cups leads to multiple attacks of acids and the teeth can decay.
If you really want to give you child sugary drinks, the safest way is with a straw, where the liquid passes the front teeth.
Just last year Teeth Team won the first ever ‘Outstanding Innovation’ award from the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD). This award is designed to recognise ‘excellent work undertaken by dental team members in support of children’s oral health’.
Teeth Team presented its annual report in Westminster in January 2018. The event was kindly sponsored by Wendy Morton MP for Aldridge-Brownhills, whose constituency includes Teeth Team schools. The event included an address by The Rt Hon Alan Johnson, former Home Secretary, former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and former MP for Hull West and Hessle. This event placed the charity firmly on the national stage.
Through partnership working, Teeth Team is going from strength to strength – with 13,000 children now in the programme nationwide. Please head over to our website http://teethteam.org.uk which is packed full of useful information for children, parents and teachers.