Children’s dental health: the supervised brushing debate

It’s shocking that in 2023, the most common cause of hospital admission for six to ten-year-olds is still tooth decay. Keir Starmer spotlighted the issue last week, starting a conversation about supervised toothbrushing.

In our view, it’s the duty of grown-ups to look after childrens’ dental health. Here at well:o, those of us with kids always check their teeth after they’ve brushed, and will send even our 10-year-olds back to the bathroom if they haven’t brushed for long enough!

Why should children be supervised when brushing?

  • To make sure they do it right – Children may not have developed the motor skills necessary to brush their teeth properly. Providing help and supervision ensures that they’re using the correct technique, including brushing all surfaces of their teeth and gums
  • To establish a routine – Get children into the habit of brushing twice daily for at least 2 minutes
  • To educate on the importance of oral health – yes, let’s highlight the risks of tooth decay, but let’s also inspire kids by helping them see their mouth as the gateway to their whole body. Oral health is central to overall health!
  • Because prevention is better than cure – Supervised brushing means more effective brushing: helping reduce issues like dental decay and gum disease. Problems not spotted early can be more expensive and difficult to treat later on.

The broader context

Parents, guardians, grandparents, dental professionals, teachers, we all have our part to play. But we understand that cost of living pressures can make dental care a lower priority.

If the government want to introduce brushing in schools, they need to be providing children with new toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis. A kit would cost £3.50 roughly per child. In the long-run this would be a cost-effective way to bring down hospital admissions for tooth extraction.

With NHS dental care becoming inaccessible, oversubscribed and under-resourced, educating and supervising children from when their teeth erupt can only benefit children and reduce the high decay rate in this country.

Professional preventive dental care for children

Just like our treatments for adults, Well:o’s hygiene treatments for children use Guided Biofilm Therapy with Airflow. It’s a comfortable experience that also educates the child about plaque and the importance of clean teeth.