Over the years many research studies have taken place which have highlighted worrying statistics regarding the oral health of our children. Despite only having recently gained their adult teeth, too many children are also beginning to experience signs and symptoms of tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay can ultimately lead to cavities (requiring fillings), or even tooth loss. It has been found that many children of primary school age are unsure of how to correctly brush their teeth, and how to maintain their overall oral hygiene. With this in mind, it would seem that teaching children to look after their teeth properly needs to be given top priority. Instilling healthy habits from a young age not only helps children to leave free from pain and discomfort due to oral health problems, but it also sets them up for a lifetime of healthier routines.
In an attempt to conquer the problem of childhood tooth decay, and support children in developing healthier habits, the Oral Health Foundation launched a programme called ‘Dental Buddy’. This programme aims to foster stronger relationships between schools (and other education providers), and health professionals. With these links firmly in place, Dental Buddy aspires to realise their goal of seeing advice and education shared more straightforwardly. This, in turn, should help to support children in developing their oral hygiene skills, and better habits.
There are many ways of getting involved in Dental Buddy, and the programme website is a great starting point. Here you will find a great range of resources, organised by target age group, that can help educational professionals to work with children and support their understanding. The website features a range of interactive presentations and activities, and even lesson plans which can be downloaded and used in the classroom. ‘All about teeth’ is a new resource that has been added to the site which provides children all the essential information they might need to know, depending on their age group. The website also details the ‘Brush Time’ programme, which might be of interest to schools who are looking to set up a toothbrushing programme. If you’re a teacher, or work in education, why not visit the website and see how the featured resources might help you.
Although Dental Buddy is set up primarily for school staff, there may well be information on the website that parents can use too. The three core messages of Dental Buddy are relevant to all children, and are important for parents, carers and teachers alike to promote and instil:
So, if you are a parent, a teacher, or spend time with children in another capacity, Dental Buddy may be able to help you in teaching and promoting healthy habits and routines in your children. It’s well worth taking a look and seeing what resources may be useful for you. By working with and teaching children to develop healthy habits at an early age, we really can make a difference.