iHV joins a group of 8 leading health organisations in publishing and sharing a consensus statement calling for the Government to urgently act to reverse increasing inequality in children’s oral health.

A survey of oral health in five-year-old children, produced as part of the National Dental Epidemiology Programme and published last week, found that over 35% of children in areas of deprivation experienced dentinal decay in 2022 in comparison to only 13.5% in more affluent areas.

With tooth decay the leading cause of hospital admissions for five-to-nine-year-olds, there is a significant, and preventable, knock-on cost to the NHS.

Families do need to be equipped with the knowledge to encourage and oversee good hygiene practice amongst children. However, this report’s worrying findings are not a result of behaviour, poor choices or a lack of education. Rather, they are a result of a wider system failure to take forward proven, cost-effective public health measures that prevent tooth decay and improve everyone’s health and wellbeing.

We therefore urge the Government to:

  • Impose further restrictions on the marketing and sale of sugary food and drinks.
  • Support policy across all departments to improve access to affordable, healthy food.
  • Increase the number of water fluoridation schemes, which are the single most effective public health measure for reducing tooth decay rates.
  • Improve access to fluoride varnish programmes.
  • Facilitate timely access to free child dental services for preventative advice and early diagnosis.
  • Ensure that the early years workforce are educated about the importance of child oral


RCPCH free webinar 16 October 2019 at 12.00 BST

Children’s oral health has recently been gaining attention in the media. Dental extractions are now the most common reasons for a child aged 5-9 years to be admitted to hospital in England and Wales.

Join RCPCH for this free webinar – register on the link below.

The target audience for this webinar is any health professional (GPs, paediatricians, health visitors, school nurses etc) who may need to provide advice for families.

By the end of the webinar, attendees will:

  • understand the issue of dental caries at a population and patient level
  • understand the key messages for delivering better oral health
  • have an awareness of professional interventions being carried out throughout the UK
  • understand the role of paediatricians in encouraging good oral health in children and young people

The webinar is aimed at a UK audience.

Please register on the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The news released from Public Health England today, that almost 9 out of 10 hospital tooth extractions among children aged 0 to 5 are due to preventable tooth decay, serves as a useful reminder to the health visiting profession. Whilst it is encouraging that oral health in the under 5s is improving overall, we still have significant work to do in deprived areas to tackle oral health inequalities. The number of extractions in 0-5 year group due to tooth decay remains a shocking statistic and should further mobilise the profession, especially where 9 out of 10 extractions were considered preventable.

Health visitors nationally have key opportunities through the mandated contacts of the Healthy Child Programme to deliver sugar reduction and toothbrushing messages to all families, as well as seeking to encourage and support parents to engage with routine dental care. Health visiting teams are also well positioned to promote apps such as the Change4Life Food Scanner at these appointments.

Through their ongoing work at partnership plus level of the service, health visitors have the prospect of identifying and intervening where children are known to be more at risk of tooth decay e.g children with long-term medical conditions are at high risk of dental health issues, or additionally those families we work closely with over a prolonged period with significant wider health and social issues.

iHV is committed to improving children’s oral health and remains a keen member of the Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board (COHIPB). We have published some summaries of resources for professionals, collated with the support of the Office of the Chief Dental Officer NHS England in the autumn of 2018. We aim to promote these again to our members and the workforce again to support action on oral health by health visitors.


Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH) has worked with the Faculty of Dentistry, the Royal College of Surgeons and UCL Eastman Dental Institute and Hospital to develop a new Children’s Oral Health e-learning programme.

This free e-learning programme provides information and advice about children’s oral health. It is aimed at parents, expectant mothers, early years healthcare workers, teachers, nurses, GPs and the public.

Children’s Oral Health Advice programme aims to help learners support children to maintain good oral health. It covers the main causes of tooth decay and simple actions that can be taken to prevent the problem. It also explains when a child’s primary (baby) and adult (permanent) teeth start to appear, and what you should do if a tooth is knocked out. By the end of the session users will have developed their knowledge of oral health and be more confident in providing children’s oral health advice.

The programme consists of one e-learning session that will take about 20 minutes to complete with a number of self-assessment questions throughout the learning which enable understanding of the key points to be checked.

Further e-learning sessions are planned for 2019 to support the understanding of children’s oral health advice for the health and care workforce.

We have to close our Health Visiting Survey on Oral Health and Sugar very soon – so this is a final call for anyone still wishing to share their views.

We would love to have the insights of health visitors and health visiting team members on what is confusing and what is helpful in addressing sugar consumption with families. The survey totals 13 short questions and should take an average of just 6 minutes to complete.

Please tell us about some of the challenges regarding sugar consumption / oral health and give us some messages to take with us. Complete our survey now to share your views.

If you have already completed it – thank you!

We have been asked to speak at the British Dental Association expert summit on sugar and oral health in November 2018. The meeting will focus on communicating health messages around sugar consumption to the public and whether some messages are more difficult to convey ie. where health visitors would welcome support in relation to oral health.

We would be pleased to have the insights of health visitors and health visiting team members on what is confusing and what is helpful in addressing sugar consumption with families. The survey totals 13 short questions and should take an average of just 6 minutes to complete. Please tell us about some of the challenges regarding sugar consumption / oral health and give us some messages to take with us. Complete our survey now to share your views.

The Institute is delighted to be working with the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, England, and is proud to support the national Smile4Life campaign.

Good oral health contributes to giving every child the best start in life and is closely associated with good general health, nutrition and development, and oral health promotion is a core element within the Healthy Child Programme.






Photography by Roger Moody. With kind permission from BSPD.

Photography by Roger Moody. With kind permission from BSPD.

Children’s oral health is a huge public health priority for all UK nations. Many of you may have already seen on social media the “jar of teeth” image. The photo is genuine and was taken by British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) President Claire Stevens who routinely extracts the teeth of children as young as two. It is a stark reminder of the reality of poor oral health for children, with the associated chronic pain which affects a child’s ability to learn, thrive and develop.

Dental attendance is crucial in identifying poor oral health in children as soon as possible, yet according to NHS Digital for the year 2016/17 the access rate to dental care by children in England under the age of 2 years was 11.6% and under 5 years was just 33%. September 2017 saw the introduction of new national guidance in England for a “Dental Check by One” (DCby1) or dental visit by a child’s first birthday to mark the start of lifelong dental care and support a smile for life. We would hope DCby1 is now rolling out across your areas and starting to improve the previous reported access to dental care issues for families.

We are publishing the attached article How health visitors can help to give every child a smile for life and will promote a suite of additional oral health resources via our social media feeds over the next couple of weeks so do follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

The aim of this is to help you to consider what it is that you do to promote good oral health for children. This article and the tweets and posts will contain many interesting resources and links to refresh your oral health evidence base. Please take some time to review these as we know from survey evidence that up-to-date knowledge is closely linked with confidence in discussing oral health with parents, and so this will further endorse your early intervention approach with families and prevention of childhood tooth decay.

Don’t forget to also share information with your early years and health and social care colleagues.

PHE’s Oral Health Survey of 5 year old children 2017 shows tooth decay in 5 year olds continues to decline in England, with current levels at 23.3% – down from 30.9% in 2008. However, clear inequalities in oral health remain, with children in deprived areas more likely to be affected.

Public Health England has published, for the first time, these 2 reports presenting information on the oral health of children at local authority level:

  • ‘Local authority area variation in the oral health of 5-year-olds‘ identifies the 30 local authority areas with higher levels of tooth decay and the trends in decay over the past 9 years
  • ‘Oral health improvement programmes commissioned by local authorities’ shows which oral health improvement programmes local authorities are currently commissioning

Both reports should be read in conjunction with the official statistics publication National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of 5-year-old children 2017.

Here’s an article  on child dental health which was recently published in the Childcare Professional’ magazine which is aimed at Childminders – How to prevent tooth decay.

The article includes information from the RCS and PHE and  highlights the recent study undertaken with Action for Children on tooth brushing and provides guidance to the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) members on how to encourage good oral health in their settings.

There is also a feature on the website linking to further tools and guidance. The magazine reaches around 30,000 practitioners – and possibly more as the magazine may be shared among co-childminders and assistants.


PHE has updated the Delivering Better Oral Health toolkit. The toolkit is designed to help clinical dental teams support patients in making choices to improve and maintain their dental and general health.

The information has been revised to reflect new healthy eating advice based on the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s evidence review and the Chief Medical Officer for England’s new guidelines on lower risk drinking.  The alcohol section is supported by a new online training module for the knowledge and skills to deliver brief advice on alcohol consumption.

There are also new factsheets aimed at patients, summarising the key actions for oral health improvement in adults and children.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE commented:

“Health visitors should be aware of, utilise and share this wonderful new toolkit to improve dental health.”