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Be tooth aware this half term

It may feel like the kids only went back to school a moment ago, but believe it or not, the Halloween half-term is now upon us. Having finally got back into the routine, restored order and set the standard for the months ahead, the thought of having the children off school again for a week can be stressful. Many parents will admit to occasionally turning a blind eye to tooth brushing during school holidays in order to keep the peace – but did you know that insufficient brushing is now a huge problem that is putting UK children’s oral health at risk? With the growing trend for celebrating Halloween with sweet treats, now is a particularly important time to be tooth aware.

Gone in 30 seconds

Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes is imperative to maintaining good oral health and fighting tooth decay. A survey commissioned by Playbrush and reported on, however, found that a concerning number of children are brushing their teeth for less than 30 seconds. The team discovered that as many as 12% of children brush for less than half a minute, whilst almost two-thirds clean their teeth for no more than a minute and a half. 

The researchers noted that this poses serious implications for the future, with children being exposed to a much higher risk of problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. These can persist into adulthood, even if your child still has only milk teeth. The problem can be compounded by excessive consumption of sugar at times like Halloween.

Too bored to brush

There are many reasons that children are neglecting their brushing. But according to the research, it often comes down to a simple problem – children don’t enjoy brushing. Parents, on the other hand, don’t enjoy the inevitable conflict situation that tends to arise when they have to step into the role of ‘enforcer’ rather than ‘encourager’. 

The research also found that as many as 40% of children stated they had tried to avoid brushing simply because it’s ‘boring’.

Catch me if you can

As any parent will know all too well, children are no fools and will stop at nothing to wriggle out of something they don’t want to do – and brushing teeth is no exception. Some of the top techniques identified by the researchers included:

  • Crying (17%)
  • Throwing tantrums (21%)
  • Claiming to have brushed when they hadn’t (50%)
  • Trying to bargain (21%)
  • Hiding (21%)>
  • Hiding items for brushing such as toothbrush and toothpaste (5%)

All this can add up to a recipe for disaster, with as many as a quarter of parents reporting that they’d lost their temper whilst getting their children to brush their teeth. The risk is that in order to simply keep the peace and survive bathroom time, parents will inevitably settle for anything that looks like the vaguest attempt at teeth brushing.

Encouraging better brushing

In order to ensure that your children are not risking their future dental health, it is essential to encourage better brushing and explore new ways to capture your child’s attention and keep them engaged. There are many different approaches, such as games, videos and even technology such as mobile phone apps. It is worth noting that whilst these may help, they can also prove to be a distraction. Sometimes a simple trick like an egg timer can be enough. Ultimately, it is a case of trial and error until you find what works best for you and your family.

Here at Stella Maris Dental Practice, we believe that prevention is better than cure. We support and encourage families to take a proactive approach to dental hygiene so that your children can grow up with the confidence to smile.

To book an appointment now or to enquire about becoming a member, call us today on 0121 588 4541.


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