NICE introduces new quality standard for oral health promotion

Councils should provide oral health programmes in schools, says NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has introduced a new quality standard, Oral health promotion in the community.

The new standard covers activities undertaken by local authorities and general dental practices to improve oral health. It particularly focuses on people at high risk of poor oral health or who find it difficult to use dental services. It describes high-quality care in priority areas for improvement.

NICE recommends councils could provide toothbrushing schemes in schools and nurseries in areas where children have poor oral health, while social care providers should also ensure oral health is included in care plans for people receiving support.

The standard says councils could introduce toothbrushing, fluoride varnishing schemes or programmes providing healthy eating advice.

NICE also asks those providing emergency dental care to advise patients of the importance of regularly seeing a dentist.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE, 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 toothbrushing schemes to schools in those areas.

‘Good oral health is vital throughout our lives and we’re confident this quality standard will help focus attention on maintaining a healthy mouth.’

The quality standard calls on health and social care providers to ensure oral health is included in care plans for people receiving support.

Providers could include day-to-day support to help people maintain good oral hygiene or refer people to dental services when required.

Dr Gill Davies, consultant in dental public health and member of the quality standard advisory committee, said: ‘I am particularly pleased with the statement to include oral health in care plans for older people who have help with daily living. Practice in this area is varied and I am hopeful this statement will help ensure health and social care services remember to consider the oral health of those they are looking after.

‘The statement for schools and early years services cooperating with oral health improvement programmes backs up guidance from PHE and NICE for local authorities. We need to look after children’s baby teeth and get them started on good oral health habits as early as possible.’

Dr Sandra White, national dental public health lead at Public Health England, 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.’

Almost 25% of five-year-olds in England had some experience of obvious tooth decay according to a Public Health England dental survey in 2015. Of those with decay the average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth was 3.4 at age five.


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