“Children should get their teeth brushed at school, says NHS watchdog,”
The headline follows the publication of guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on ways for local authorities to improve the oral health of their communities. The new guidelines have been welcomed in some parts of the media, but others have accused NICE of creating a “supernanny state”.
The guidance follows a recent Public Health England survey that demonstrated the wide disparity in oral health across the country, particularly among younger children and vulnerable socioeconomic groups.
Overall, across the country, 12% of young children were found to have tooth decay, but this varied – from more than a third of children in Leicester, to just 2% in other parts of the country.
As NICE says, dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease can have a wide range of effects, not only causing pain and the need to remove decayed teeth, but affecting a person’s ability to speak, eat, smile and socialise.
The recommendations aim to help authorities commission health, social care and educational services that promote and protect oral health. This includes advice on ways to improve oral hygiene, such as reducing the consumption of sugary food and drinks, alcohol and tobacco, increasing the availability of fluoride, and encouraging people to get regular dental check-ups.
Among these recommendations are those focused towards improving oral health among young and school-age children, including considerations for nurseries and primary schools to supervise tooth brushing in children at high risk of tooth decay.
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