Keeping Tooth Decay At Bay

A regular tooth-cleaning regime is vital for your child's dental hygiene which can keep tooth decay away. Children can often resist brushing their teeth but it's important to encourage and support them to practice good dental hygiene. With my boys, I find one of the biggest challenges it to get them to brush their teeth rather than just sucking the toothpaste off. It really does, rather frustratingly, take a lot of encouragement to get them to brush correctly!


Did you know that one in ten British children have missed a full day of school in order to receive treatment due to tooth decay? The Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey highlighted a number of statistics in regards to children's oral health habits. For parent's who had had a child admitted to hospital for tooth extraction, nearly one in five said their child had needed a total of four teeth extracted due to tooth decay.
The statistic come as the Government announces plans for a consultation on introducing a tooth brushing scheme in primary schools, with nearly a third of parents (32%) saying they would like their child to receive daily tooth brushing sessions at school. Furthermore, 48% of parents said they would like their child to receive oral health education in school from dental professionals, and 35% said they’d like oral health education from teachers. In addition, 41% of parents said they would like to see dental check-ups at school.

The survey also explored the problems parents face when trying to get their children to brush their teeth regularly and correctly, with 64% of respondents saying getting their child to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day, was their biggest challenge.

More than one in five (21%) children brush just once a day or less, and 13% of children aged seven and under are brushing their own teeth unsupervised, contrary to advice that children aged seven and under should be supervised while brushing, or have an adult brush their teeth for them.

Preparing tooth-friendly school lunchboxes could also prove tricky for parents this school year, as 37% admit they find ensuring their children have tooth-friendly snacks and (41%) drinks a struggle. Biscuits (28%), sweets/chocolates (16%), and fizzy drinks (7%) all featuring in the lunchboxes of those surveyed.


Commenting on the figures, Head Dental Officer at Simplyhealth, Dr Catherine Rutland said:

“It’s disappointing to hear that so many children are missing out on lessons at school as a result of tooth decay, especially as it’s a problem that can be so easily avoided. A regular family brushing routine, before and after school, is so important to reduce the risk of needing dental work at a young age and sets up strong habits for your little ones later in life. Brushing first thing in the morning before breakfast can help busy families to ensure that they get a proper brush before school, while the night-time brush cleans away plaque bacteria and food debris accumulated throughout the day so that it doesn’t sit on the teeth while they sleep.

“I would also encourage parents to look for low-sugar alternatives when packing lunchboxes and swap sweets for carrot sticks and fruit juices for water. Cheese is a great lunchbox snack to finish a meal with as it can naturally rebalance the pH level in your mouth, meaning less harmful acid and reducing the chances of tooth decay.”

It seems it’s not just during the school day where teeth are at risk though, as 30% of parents said their child often or always takes a drink to bed with them, of which, shockingly, one in ten (10%) admitted that their children takes a fizzy drink to bed. Furthermore, 24% said their child takes squash or cordial to bed, and 15% take fruit juice to bed.

Dr Catherine Rutland comments, “Sugary or fizzy drinks should only be consumed occasionally as a treat, and definitely never at bedtime. Drinking something with high sugar content leaves your children vulnerable to tooth decay. Less saliva is produced at night and so the teeth will be bathed in sugar and acid while they sleep. If your child needs a drink at night, always give them water.”

Dr Rutland urges parents to visit the dentist with their family at least once every six months. Regular visits help children get into a good oral health routine, as well as ensuring that any problems or early signs of tooth decay are detected at an early stage. Dentists can also advise parents on the best products for children’s teeth and provide some fun brushing techniques too.

It's also important that parents care for their own teeth, attending regular dental appointments and receiving treatment as required. To find the service you need, a simple Google search can help locate your nearest dental service, for example searching 'dental implants Glasgow'.

Simplyhealth, the experts behind Denplan payment plans, who commissioned this research, is working in partnership with charities such as Teeth Team to help improve the oral health of primary school aged children in socially deprived communities. To read the full report, just visit

*Collaborative post