A British health advisory service has said that schools should start teaching children to brush their teeth. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says that teachers and school nurses should supervise children brushing their teeth to try to reduce rates of decay in children.

Although this is a British suggestion, it’s possible that we could benefit from this in the US as well.

No “British Teeth” Jokes

We know that the standard joke is that people in Britain have worse teeth than those in the US. Whether this is true is debatable. A recent study claimed that from some standpoints British teeth are actually better than US teeth. And for the relevant population, there’s no doubt that the need is just as great in the US as in Britain.

Nice made its suggestion as it announced that 25% of five-year-olds have

tooth cavities. In the US, the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that 27% of US children ages 2-5 have decay in their teeth.

Should schools teach children to brush their teeth?

Parents Don’t Understand the Importance

Part of the reason why Nice recommends having teachers and nurses supervise brushing is that parents don’t take the issue seriously enough. In the US, we face the same issue, as the Children’s Dental Health Project revealed with a survey of parents showing that most of them didn’t understand that people can influence the growth of cavities. In the survey, 42% of adults said that they had “little or no control” over whether they develop cavities.

If as much as 42% of children are going to be brought up in households with this kind of attitude, it certainly seems we could benefit from having schools intervene.

It Wouldn’t Be the First Time

It’s important to remember that toothbrushing has been widespread in the US for less than 100 years. In the early 20th century, compulsory school attendance first taught us the magnitude of tooth decay impacting children. At that time, the incidence of cavities in school age children was over 95%, based on an examination of 447 children in Elmira, NY. Those 447 children needed 617 teeth extracted due to decay.

To help combat this crisis, schools instituted toothbrush drills. There were also oral health clubs that encouraged children to take a more active role in preserving their teeth.

The progress we’ve made since that time is evidence that these efforts have been successful. It also shows that they could be successful in helping to further reduce the risk of tooth decay.

But even more important is making sure that your family is getting proper dental care, including regular dental checkups. If you are looking for a good dental home in Harriman and surrounding parts of Orange County, please call (845) 783-6466 today for an appointment at Harriman Family Dental.