15th June 2017
This professional resource outlines how health professional, councils and partners can help prevent tooth decay in children under 5 as part of ensuring every child has the best start in life.
Tooth decay is largely preventable yet it remains a serious problem. Findings from Public Health England’s (PHE) 2015 national dental epidemiology survey of 5 year old children showed that in 2015 in England, a quarter (25%) of 5 year olds had experienced tooth decay, having on average 3 or 4 teeth affected. The vast majority of tooth decay was untreated.
Health visitors have an important role in providing advice and support as part of the healthy child programme. This includes:
- universal interventions within the first year, providing oral health advice and support and signposting to dental services
- identifying families that need additional support, for example the siblings of children who have attended hospital for dental extractions due to tooth decay
- encouraging dental attendance when the first tooth erupts at about 6 months of age, to enable the dental teams to give preventive messages
Resources are available to support this including:
- Dental section in the red book (Personal Child Health Record)
- training on oral health in Healthy Child Programme Health Education England e-Learning for Health resource
- Improving oral health for children and young people for health visitors, school nurses and practice nurses infographic with 10 top tips for teeth
- Delivering Better Oral Health – quick guide to a healthy mouth in children factsheet
- Institute of Health Visiting (iHV)