UK schools ranked last for providing oral health education

oral healthUK schools rank last for promoting good oral health, according to an FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) survey.

Only 29% of parents from the UK said their children’s school provides lessons on the importance of good oral care.

The results from the 13 countries asked were:

  • Mexico – 93%
  • Brazil – 91%
  • India – 91%
  • Indonesia – 87%
  • Algeria – 86%
  • Morocco – 86%
  • Poland – 84%
  • Saudi Arabia – 81%
  • China – 77%
  • Germany – 69%
  • Australia – 54%
  • USA – 53%
  • UK – 29%.

‘Survey results show that not all parents know if their children are receiving oral health education at school,’ FDI president, Dr Kathryn Kell, said.

‘We must fill this knowledge gap, as oral diseases are the most prevalent disease globally and affect 3.58 billion people; equivalent to half of the world’s population.

‘What’s more, 486 million children suffer from tooth decay of primary teeth.

‘This can cause premature tooth loss, pain, sleep disruption, problems eating and other health issues for young children.

‘Schools must be encouraged to teach children about good oral care.’

Teaching children about good oral care

Almost half (49%) of parents in the UK didn’t know how often their children’s school gave lessons on oral care.

This compares with Mexico, where only 1% of parents didn’t know how often oral care lessons occurred.

Despite this, 71% of parents across all countries agree that schools should teach children about good oral care.

‘Good oral health habits start early,’ World Oral Health Day task team chair, Dr Edoardo Cavalle, stated.

‘We need to encourage children to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and avoid foods high in sugars.

‘We also need to prioritise regular dental check-ups.

‘Millions of school days are lost because of poor oral health, seriously affecting a child’s ability to perform at school.

‘Together, parents and teachers must play a key role in helping to educate children on the importance of oral health.

‘This will help secure the general health and well-being of future generations.’

NHS attendance

Almost six in 10 (57.7%) children between one and four years old didn’t visit an NHS dentist last year.

That’s according to analysis of NHS Digital data by the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS).

Almost half (41.4%) of children up to 17 years old didn’t attend an NHS dentist appointment in 2018.

‘It’s disappointing that nearly six in 10 one- to four-year-olds didn’t see an NHS dentist last year,’ Professor Michael Escudier, dean of the FDS, said.

‘Children who experience early childhood tooth decay are much more likely to develop subsequent problems.

‘This includes an increased risk of further decay in both baby and permanent teeth.

‘It’s so important a child’s first interactions with the dentist are for simple check-ups rather than more serious treatment.

‘Just getting a child into the habit of opening their mouth for a dentist is useful practice for the future.’

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