IGNORANT parents are costing the NHS £22m each year – because they don’t take their children to the dentist.
New research led by My Dentist, the UK’s largest dental group, has revealed a lack of understanding amongst parents on the importance of early dental care.
The survey of over 2,000 UK-based parents highlights how dental disengagement has left over 1 million children aged eight and under still waiting for their first trip to the dentist.
Additionally, over 700,000 children who have been to the dentist have had at least one filling, each at a cost of £31 to the Department of Health.
Many parents failed to take their children to the dentist early enough with 57% of respondents not going until after their first birthday, considerably later than when teething starts, despite almost 50% reporting no barriers to doing so earlier.
Furthermore, only a quarter (26%) of children brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes per session.
The survey also highlighted how lack of dental engagement may be contributing to parental confusion around positive factors for oral health and free treatments available on the NHS:
· 20% incorrectly thought that fruit smoothies were good for their child’s teeth
· 20% incorrectly believe that sippy cups are good for their child’s teeth
· 1 in 8 parents (13%) incorrectly said fluoride is bad for their child’s teeth
· Nearly a third (31%) were unaware of free NHS treatments available to kids such as fluoride varnishing
In response to these issues, My Dentist has launched a new nationwide Kids Club to provide parents and children with better information aimed at tackling dental disengagement and ensuring the best possible start to kids’ early dental experiences.
Key initiatives of the programme include:
· Kids Club App: Innovative digital resource to educate, engage and reward children
· My Little Book of Big Smiles: In-depth parental resource available online and in-practice to educate on early dental health
· Kids Club Dental Unit: Mobile facility to introduce kids to the dental practice environment and increase access through more effective community engagement
· Free Brushing Aids: Two minute timer to encourage kids to brush their teeth for the recommended duration