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School nurses should brush up on oral hygiene to fight tooth decay, says NICE

School nurses and teachers should supervise children brushing their teeth to help drive down rates of tooth decay, experts have said.

School nurses and teachers should supervise children brushing their teeth to help drive down rates of tooth decay, experts have said.

School nurses should brush up on oral hygiene
New guidance urges school nurses to brush up on oral hygiene
Picture: iStock

New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says children in poorer areas, where there is a high risk of poor oral health, should be told about the importance of looking after their teeth and helped to do so.

The guidance said children could take part in a programme at school or nursery where teachers, teaching assistants or school nurses supervise them brushing their teeth, or they are encouraged to reduce the amount of sugar they eat.

Oral health providers

The guidance said local authorities should provide oral health programmes in schools, nurseries and children's centres.

Figures from the 2015 Public Health England (PHE) dental survey show almost a quarter of five-year-olds in England have obvious tooth decay.

The average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth in these children at age five was 3.41.

Calls for identification

NICE deputy chief executive Gillian Leng said: 'The risk of dental caries and periodontal disease is reduced by good oral health behaviour, such as brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.

'This quality standard calls on local authorities to identify areas where children and young people are at risk of poor oral health and target services like supervised tooth brushing schemes to schools in those areas.

Sandra White, national dental public health lead at PHE, said: 'Poor oral health affects a quarter of five-year-old children and is also something that is frequently overlooked in older people's care homes, where the need for oral health to be included in
care plans has long been recognised.

'We welcome this quality standard which gives guidance to local authorities around the actions they can take to improve oral health in their communities and benefit those who are most at risk.'


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