Do you like a good quiz? Here’s a trivia question for you then: what happens on average 180 times a day in the UK? If you guessed something nice, like a litter of Labrador puppies being born or a teenager sending their mum a loving text message, we’d love it if you were right. Unfortunately, the statistic we’re looking at is not at all warm and fuzzy and definitely not trivial. In fact, it’s horrifying. The truth is that in 2017/18, there were 180 operations per day in the UK to remove rotten teeth from children.*

The ramifications of these operations are alarming, given that they require general anaesthesia – which always carries a risk – and time off from school – which impacts on their learning. We also need to consider the cost (£38.9 million last year) to an already-struggling NHS. And the shameful truth is that it’s all avoidable.

These are just some of the reasons we here at 543 focus so intently on children’s oral health and also why we’re keen to support the Oral Health Foundation’s National Smile Month (13th May to 13th June). It’s our mission to ensure that every one of our patients – and their friends and families – understands the importance of good oral health and has the skills to maintain it.

So, what exactly is oral health education (OHE)? Whether it’s done in person at your hygiene appointment or check-up, in schools via Teeth Team, or online through social media or blog posts, OHE is all about teaching you good oral hygiene practices and helping you make better dietary choices. To start your kids off on the right foot, here are three top tips:

  1. Practice great oral hygiene
    It only takes two minutes twice a day to brush your teeth properly (being sure to use a fluoride toothpaste) and it’s probably the single most important habit your kids can adopt to help ensure their future oral health. They should also be flossing once daily – preferably before bed. We encourage you to do what you can to make brush time enjoyable – get them a fun toothbrush and yes even bribe reward them if necessary!
  2. Avoid sugar
    We all know that sugar is the enemy of teeth, but we don’t always act accordingly. Start small and build on your success – little changes can make a big difference. Examples are choosing fresh fruit instead of sugary treats, drinking water instead of fruit or fizzy drinks and replacing sweet snacks with healthier options such as hard cheese or plain yogurt. Read labels and use a smart tool, such as the NHS’s free Change4Life app, to make it easier.
  3. Visit your dentist and dental hygienist!
    Regular dental visits are hugely important, so we can keep an eye on how well your children’s (and your own) teeth are developing and spot any early signs of trouble. Twice-yearly cleanings are also critical as the hygienist is able to remove tartar that brushing alone can’t budge. How long has it been since your last visit? Book in today!

So, now you know why National Smile Month is so important, why not help us shout it out on social media? Use hashtag #NationalSmileMonth and tag us in too (@543DentalCentre) so we can pass it on!

*180 operations a day to remove rotten teeth in children, Local Government Association December 2018.