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Dental Buddy: Teaching children healthy habits 18-09-2017

In the past we have brought you details about the shocking number of children who, having only recently developed their adult teeth, are already beginning to display signs of tooth decay. Given that tooth decay can lead to cavities (and fillings), or even tooth loss, this is a worrying fact. The Oral Health Foundation has, in the past, carried out research which has found that many primary school aged children simply do not know how to properly brush and maintain their oral hygiene to the necessary standard. In light of this, it has been identified that increased priority needs to be given to supporting children to understand what they need to do, and to develop healthy habits from a young age.

In response to alarming statistics, the Oral Health Foundation developed a programme called ‘Dental Buddy’. This scheme is open to all across the UK, and there are many options in terms of how to get involved. A key aim of the programme to help to build stronger partnerships between schools and other education providers, and health professionals and organisations. If these links are firmly in place, it is hoped that advice and education can be shared more easily and that this will, in turn, enable children to develop better habits and develop their skills in managing their oral health.

By visiting the Dental Buddy website you’ll be able to view the wide range of resources that have been put together specifically to help education professionals to support pupils to develop their skills and knowledge. The resources are organised by age group, so it should be easy to find which resources are most suitable for the age group you’re thinking of. Resources consist of interactive presentations and activities that children can do, and the website also features lesson plans that can be used in the classroom. Dental Buddy are particularly pleased to bring you their new resource ‘All about teeth’, which gives children all the essential information they need to know about their teeth at certain ages. In addition, their ‘Brush Time’ programme is specifically designed to help schools set up toothbrushing programmes in their settings. If you are an educational professional, why not visit the website and see what might be useful in your lesson planning?

Whilst Dental Buddy is designed with school staff in mind, you may find information on the website useful in helping your child to develop healthy routines. The programme has three key messages that it is aiming to get across and encourage children to embed: as parents you’ll be able to help your children to work on developing these habits at home:

1.Teeth should be brushed twice a day, for two minutes at a time. Use a fluoride toothpaste.

2.Reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks that are consumed, and eat a healthy diet.

3.Ensure that you visit the dentist regularly – they will be able to recommend how often.

So, whether you are a teacher, classroom assistant, parent or grandparent, it’s well worth taking a look at the Dental Buddy website, and seeing how it might support you to develop healthy oral hygiene routines in the children that you care for. There are loads of fun and interactive activities that can be used, that will help to instil knowledge and skills in children at a time when healthy habits for life can be developed. Teaching and supporting children to develop these skills at an early age is the only way to reduce tooth decay in our children.

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