Tooth decay is one of the world’s most prominent, persistent health problems — especially among children.
And in a controversial new move to combat tooth decay, officials at the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are advising schools to hold supervised, guided teeth-brushing for children at the beginning and end of each school day.
According to the Telegraph, the NICE drew up these recommendations because many parents throughout the UK don’t realize the rudimentary dental hygiene needs of their children.
The teeth-brushing sessions will be held for children ages 3-11, and the proposal also asks schools to hand out free toothbrushes and toothpaste to take home, to encourage the children to brush on their own.
The BBC reports that more than one in 10 three-year-olds — about 12% — across England have rotten teeth. The rate increases in high-risk areas, such as Leicester, where 34% of children have been found to have tooth decay.
“I think that this is a very good idea. Parents can do their part in the morning and at night but throughout the day kids eat so many sugary snacks and drinks that being able to brush afterwards would be very beneficial and possibly even decrease the amount of dental visits needed for kids.” Tracy Reed, Professional Relations Director, Dr. Tom Popp Orthodontics.
Critics of the NICE’s proposal state that it reinforces the UK’s tendency to act as a ‘supernanny state’ that has now taken basic child rearing duties away from parents.
“What will they suggest next, that parents can drop their children off at school naked and unwashed, and leave the state to step in and do the rest?” Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, told the Telegraph.
Even if claims of a supernanny state in which parental duties are devolved to the government are true, the NICE’s proposal could ultimately help reduce the number of children who visit the hospital each year to have decayed teeth removed — which currently stands at around 25,000.