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NICE: School and nurseries should focus on dental care

Nurseries and primary schools should begin supervising tooth brushing in order to prevent tooth decay, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has urged. 

New guidance released by NICE says that says carers, parents and children in many areas of the country need support to promote good oral hygiene.

NICE warns that the vulnerable members of society, young children and the elderly, are at greatest risk of tooth decay and gum disease - both of which are largely preventable.

The director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, Professor Mike Kelly, believes there is a “misunderstanding” with regards to the caring of milk teeth.

He 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.”

The new publication suggests:

 - Better staff training.

 - Improved commissioning of personal care services including those provided to frail older people.

 - Supporting better diets.

 - Promoting good oral hygiene and increasing the availability of fluoride toothpaste.

 - Encouraging people to visit the dentist more regularly.

Professor Kelly adds: “We know from Public Health England that there are wide regional differences in oral health. The situation is bleak for many adults as well as children in disadvantaged areas.

“Diet, poor oral hygiene, smoking, alcohol, and a lack of understanding about oral health are causing tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss and increasing the risk of mouth cancers.  These are also the risk factors causing many chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.”

The NHS dental epidemiology programme for England: oral health survey of 12 year old children 2008/2009 recorded a higher rate of incidence and severity of oral disease for people living in Yorkshire and the Humber, the north west and north east of England, compared to those in the Midlands and South West of the country.

Severe tooth decay has been reported in children as young as three years old. Around 25,000 children each year are admitted to hospital to have teeth removed.