Preventing tooth decay in children under five

This professional resource from Public Health England outlines how health professionals, councils and partners can help prevent tooth decay in children under 5 as part of ensuring every child has the best start in life.

The guidance covers the following areas:

  • Scale of the problem
  • Risk factors for tooth decay
  • How to prevent tooth decay
  • Effective interventions for improving dental health
Preventing decay

Image Source: http://www.gov.uk

80% of under-twos in England didn’t visit an NHS dentist last year

Faculty of Dental Surgery says ‘widespread misunderstanding’ among parents over when to visit dentist leads to children having to have rotten teeth removed

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The Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at The Royal College of Surgeons has analysed on the latest NHS Digital dental statistics for children and found that approximately 80% of children between the age of one and two didn’t visit an NHS dentist in the twelve months leading up to March 31st 2017.

The FDS is warning that there is a widespread misunderstanding among parents about when a baby should visit the dentist. NHS dental check-ups for children are free. Official Public Health England guidance states that parents and carers should ensure their child has a dental check-up as soon as their teeth start to appear, which is usually at around six months old.

Many of the 9,220 cases of tooth extractions performed in hospitals on children aged one to four during 2015/16 can be attributed to tooth decay, which the FDS points out is 90% preventable.

Motivational Interviewing to Promote Oral Health in Adolescents

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a counseling strategy to help people change their behaviors. This single-blinded randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of MI in improving adolescents’ oral health | Journal of Adolescent Health

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Fifteen secondary schools were randomly assigned to three groups: (I) prevailing health education, (II) MI, and (III) MI coupled with interactive dental caries risk assessment (MI + RA). Adolescents (n = 512) with unfavorable oral health behaviors (infrequent toothbrushing and/or frequent snacking) were recruited; 161, 163, and 188 in groups I–III, respectively. Participants in the three groups received their respective interventions. At baseline and after 6 and 12 months, participants completed a questionnaire on their oral health self-efficacy and behaviors. Their oral hygiene (dental plaque score) and dental caries (number of decayed surfaces/teeth status) were recorded.

MI was more effective than prevailing health education strategy in eliciting positive changes in adolescents’ oral health behaviors and preventing dental caries.

Full reference: Wu, L. et al. Motivational Interviewing to Promote Oral Health in Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online:May 19, 2017

New research to help children from deprived areas brush up on oral health

A new research project funded by the NIHR HTA Programme will investigate ways of improving the oral health of young people living in deprived areas.

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The researchers from the Universities of Dundee and Sheffield will work with 48 schools and nearly 6000 young people in Scotland, England and Wales on the four-year Brushing Reminder 4 Good Oral Health (BRIGHT) initiative.

BRIGHT will investigate whether a classroom-based lesson about dental health followed by a series of text messages could increase how often and how well children aged 11-16 brush their teeth – and ultimately reduce levels of tooth decay.

In each school, one class will receive the talk and a series of text messages, while another will not. The team will collect information on tooth decay, frequency of brushing, and the impact decay has on the children’s lives to determine whether those in the programme develop better oral health habits than those who don’t participate.

Read the full overview here

Helping children from deprived areas with oral health

A new research project funded by the NIHR HTA Programme will investigate ways of improving the oral health of young people living in deprived areas.

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The researchers from the Universities of Dundee and Sheffield will work with 48 schools and nearly 6000 young people in Scotland, England and Wales on the four-year Brushing Reminder 4 Good Oral Health (BRIGHT) initiative.

BRIGHT will investigate whether a classroom-based lesson about dental health followed by a series of text messages could increase how often and how well children aged 11-16 brush their teeth – and ultimately reduce levels of tooth decay.

In each school, one class will receive the talk and a series of text messages, while another will not. The team will collect information on tooth decay, frequency of brushing, and the impact decay has on the children’s lives to determine whether those in the programme develop better oral health habits than those who don’t participate.

Child ‘sugar scourge’: thousands having teeth removed in hospital

More than 40,000 children and young people a year are having rotten teeth removed in hospital in further evidence of what doctors call the “costly scourge of sugar” | via The Guardian

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Experts say annual figures for England obtained by the Local Government Association (LGA) show the need for tougher curbs on sugar in children’s diets. The NHS figures obtained by the LGA show that 40,800 under-18s in England had at least one tooth taken out last year under general anaesthetic because of decay.

Performing the procedures cost £35.6m. The children involved had such advanced decay that they could not be treated by a dentist and had to go to hospital instead. NHS surgeons carried out 161 such operations each working day.

Full story via The Guardian

Improving oral health

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This toolkit is for commissioners and providers of supervised tooth brushing programmes in England.

In 2014, both NICE and PHE published documents that reviewed the evidence of effectiveness of oral health improvement programmes. They both recommended commissioning targeted supervised toothbrushing in early years’ settings. Read Improving oral health: an evidence-informed toolkit for local authorities.

Many local authorities in England already commission such programmes. This toolkit will help commissioners, public health teams and providers make sure their programmes are evidence-based and safe, and have clear accountability and reporting arrangements.

Access the full toolkit: Improving oral health: A toolkit to support commissioning of supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years and school settings