The British Dental Health Foundation is looking for buddies to aid its quest to improve oral health in children.
The charity is asking dental care practitioners, oral health promoters and oral health promotion units to take up the challenge and visit local schools in a bid to increase oral health education in the classroom.
Latest figures reveal a third (33%) of 12-year-olds have some kind of cavity while around one in seven (14%) of eight year olds have signs of decay in permanent teeth, with one in 100 losing a tooth to decay.
Children who learn good oral health habits early are far more likely to carry them into adulthood so the Foundation has launched http://www.dentalbuddy.org/ – a website with a range of free materials and resources to encourage more dental professionals to forge links with schools and deliver oral health messages to children in the community.
The symbol of the campaign is Buddy, a spaceman character who will set out to explore oral health in partnership with children.
Director of Educational Resources at the Foundation, Amanda Oakey, is asking for dental professionals to become a ‘Buddy’ themselves and take their expertise into the classroom.
Amanda said: ‘Teachers have a lot of pressure to deliver education that meets national targets in literacy, numeracy and areas such as Personal, Health & Social Education, which oral health happens to fall under.
‘By going into schools and nurseries, and sharing their knowledge and experiences, dental professionals and oral health teams can really make a positive difference for many children in the UK, particularly in more deprived areas where inequalities in health are more apparent.
‘Oral health levels of children in the UK are generally very good but fundamental problems still exist. Children not being taken to the dentist, not being provided with toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste and having imbalanced diets loaded with sugar. These are basic lessons we can pass on directly to the children themselves and teach them the value of good oral hygiene.’
Based on the Foundation’s three core messages, the aim of the campaign is to educate children on:
– The importance of brushing their teeth for two minutes twice a day using a toothpaste containing the correct amount of fluoride;
– Their diet and to cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks;
– The importance of visiting the dentist regularly.
Resources on the website include lesson plans, activity sheets and presentations, geared specifically towards Early Years, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two children.