Oral Health

To nurture the skills of resilience is key to providing young people with the ability to cope with stress, adversity, failure and challenges. Resilience is evident when young people have a greater ability to “bounce back” when faced with difficulties and achieve positive outcomes.

Resilience is required to resist the temptation of sugary food and drinks and to pursue healthier alternatives.

Dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease are wholly preventable, but when present, can have a wide range of effects, not only causing pain and the need to remove decayed teeth, but affecting the ability to speak, eat, smile and socialise. In 2015-2016 tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admission for children aged 5 to 9 years-old and the sixth most common procedure in hospital for children aged 4 years and under.

Pupils should have the opportunity to learn at school what constitutes, and how to maintain, a healthy lifestyle, including the benefits of healthy eating and dental health and to recognise opportunities and develop the skills to make their own choices about food, and understand what might influence their choices and the benefits of eating a balanced diet

KS1

  • understand how sugary drinks can affect teeth
  • name ways to keep teeth healthy
  • understand that eating or drinking too much sugar causes tooth decay

KS2

  • design an experiment to show how sugary drinks can affect teeth
  • describe ways to keep their teeth healthy
  • understand that eating or drinking too much sugar causes tooth decay

24% of 5 year olds in Peterborough and 13% in Cambridgeshire were reported to have tooth decay (Oral health survey 2017).

Raising awareness of the importance of oral health, as part of a ‘whole-school’ approach in all primary schools

Introducing specific schemes to improve and protect oral health in primary schools in areas where children are at high risk of poor oral health

Supervised tooth brushing schemes for primary schools in areas where children are at high risk of poor oral health

  • Identify school staff who could be trained to provide advice and support to promote and protect pupils’ oral health. Train these staff to give:
    • age-appropriate information adapted to meet local needs and based on the ‘advice for patients’ in Delivering better oral health
    • advice and information about where to get routine and emergency dental treatment, including advice about costs (for example, transport costs)
    • advice and help to access local community networks offering information, advice and support about general child health and development.
    • Ensure trained staff set up and run tooth brushing schemes and support fluoride varnish programmes commissioned by local authorities (see recommendations 19 and 20).
    • Provide opportunities for staff to talk with parents or carers about, and involve them in, improving their children’s oral health. For example, opportunities might arise at parent-teacher evenings, open days or by encouraging parents and carers to get involved in developing the school food and drinks policy.
  • Promote a ‘whole-school’ approach to oral health by:
    • Ensuring, wherever possible, that all school policies and procedures promote and protect oral health (for example, policies on diet and nutrition, health and safety and anti-bullying should include oral health; see Standards for school food in England, Department for Education 2016).
    • Making plain drinking water available for free and encouraging children to bring refillable water bottles to school.
    • Providing a choice of sugar-free food, drinks (water and milk) and snacks (for example, fresh fruit). These should also be provided in any vending machines.
    • Displaying and promoting evidence-based, age-appropriate oral health information for parents, carers and children (this should be relevant to local needs and include details of how to access local dental services).
    • Ensuring opportunities are found in the curriculum to teach the importance of maintaining good oral health and highlighting how it links with appearance and self-esteem. This should use age-appropriate information, adapted to meet local needs and based on the ‘advice for patients’ in Delivering better oral health.
    • Identifying and linking with relevant local partners to promote oral health (see the NICE guideline on community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities). This could include oral health promotion schemes commissioned by the local authority and local community networks (see recommendation 3)

Locally, oral health promotion services can be provided in conjunction with schools. The oral health promoters plan, develop and educate people in ways to improve and manage their oral health. Their aim is to reduce inequalities for oral health outcomes based on the Department of Health (DoH) “Delivering Better Oral Health”. Dental HealthCare Cambridgeshire have a small team who deliver oral health promotion to the community. They visit care homes, schools, nurseries and other vulnerable groups promoting good oral health and a contact form can be accessed here: Community Service

For a guided school health assessment in this area or for more tailored support for your school, contact us.