NICE has recommended schools and nurseries conduct supervised tooth-brushing sessions, as part of new guidance on tooth decay.
The guidance also recommends fluoride-varnishing programmes, alongside supervised tooth brushing, in nurseries and primary schools in areas where children are at high risk of poor oral health. The guidelines also support working with parents and carers to ensure that children have access to the up-to-date information about oral health, healthy food and drinking water. NICE reports that severe tooth decay has been reported in children as young as three, with some cases beginning much earlier.
The public health director at NICE Professor Mike Kelly said: 'Children, as young as three, are being condemned to a life with rotten teeth, gum disease and poor health going into adulthood. Many children have poor diets and poor mouth hygiene because there is misunderstanding about the importance of looking after children's early milk teeth and gums. They eat too much sugar and don't clean their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. As a society we should help parents and carers give their children the best start in life and act now to stop the rot before it starts.'
Dr Sandra White, director of dental public health at PHE, said: 'Oral health is everyone's responsibility and by expanding oral health education to the wider community so that nurseries, children's centres and primary schools all play a role we can reduce dental decay and ultimately improve the oral health of the local population.'
The recommendations come after a report by PHE which found that 12 per cent of three year olds suffer from tooth decay, with an average of three affected teeth.
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