UK schools failing to educate children on oral health, report says

British schools are amongst the worst ranked internationally for educating children about oral health, according to a recent survey by YouGov, a British analytics firm. While increasingly a concern for many parents, experts say that our collective attitude isn’t changing fast enough, and our children’s health is suffering as a result. This results in not only severe costs to their individual standard of dental care as they grow older, but also real-world financial costs to education and health services; two of our most vital sectors.

What do the findings say?

The statistics from YouGov’s survey indicate that just 29% of UK schools teach their students about oral health. That means slightly less than 1 in 3 British children between 5 and 16 are properly educated about good oral care, and the importance of forming good habits early on in life. And with the news just this year that children regularly exceed their recommended sugar limit by age 10, the importance of good oral care is becoming more pressing than ever.

It’s far from an impossible task – other countries are certainly leading by example! Mexico is amongst the best in the world for teaching their students about oral health, as 93% of their schools do it. The United States, Australia, Germany, China, Brazil and India are also doing well, with the latter pair not far behind Mexico; 91% of their schools teach children about oral health. It’s an especially impressive achievement given how populous these nations are, with India in particular home to over a billion people.

Why are the results so significant for the UK?

Put simply, tooth decay is the single biggest reason for hospital admissions amongst children in the UK. A significant proportion of these stays ultimately involve extraction, which is estimated to have cost the NHS over £200 million since 2012. The cost to the education sector is not to be underestimated either, as tooth extractions have been the underlying reason behind at least 60,000 days of lost school time across Britain each year. As well as the concerning findings above, the results of the survey found that nearly half of British parents (49%) didn’t know how often their child’s school gave lessons on the importance of proper oral care.

“Oral health is absent from the school curriculum and our children are suffering as a result.” says Dr Nigel Carter, the Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation. “There are children up and down the country who are in pain due to the lack of attention their teeth have been given in their early, most crucial years.”

Here at AP Smilecare, we recently published a post on how to prepare your own child for their dental visit – especially if it’s their first – so it’s worth checking out! Whatever your age, our top priority is your smile and dental health, and we take care to make sure that you leave our practice looking and feeling amazing. We’ve got a range of core treatments especially for that purpose – why not take a look through them, or give us a call on 01254 297 000 to see how we can help?