The Importance of Oral Health in Early Years Education
Oral Health is included in the EYFS as it is important that good oral health habits are formed from an early age. Tooth decay is a serious problem in the UK but is preventable if children are taught good habits whilst they are young. Toothache can cause serious problems for early years children such as eating, sleeping, socialising and learning.
In June 2017, Public Health England published new guidance on the oral health of children which sets out clear guidance on how to prevent tooth decay in young people. With children spending an increasing amount of time in childcare, childcare practitioners play an important role in supporting good oral health.
How can you positively promote oral health in your setting?
- Reduce the consumption of sugary food and drinks. Provide children with sugar-free meals, snacks and drinks during their time at nursery.
- Teach children and their parents about the importance of cleaning their teeth with fluoride toothpaste and eating healthily.
- Working with parents to teach their children about good oral health, and the importance of visiting the dentist on a regular basis.
Nutrition and oral health
Food choices are important when it comes to the oral health of children. It is recommended that children should consume a well-balanced diet to help prevent tooth decay. There are certain foods that can increase tooth strength, protect teeth from cavities and naturally clean teeth.
Foods that are especially beneficial to oral health include:
- Raw fruits and vegetables.
- Leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
- Calcium-rich foods such as cheese, milk, yoghurt and broccoli.
- Protein such as chicken, turkey, fish and low sugar peanut butter.
Encouraging children to eat a well-balanced diet and teaching them the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth and visiting the dentist regularly will promote healthy habits that could impact their oral health for the rest of their life.
Informational resources and activities for children are crucial to promoting good oral health in your setting. Oral health can link to different areas of the EYFS that you already focus on such as personal, social, and emotional development, speech and language and physical development. We have created a FREE oral health activity guide featuring 10 activities to teach and engage children in this important topic.