A new survey reveals confusion amongst parents as to what age a child should first visit the dentist, with only 13% believing they should first take their baby to the dentist at six months.
Many are in the dark – with 72% of mothers say they have never seen any information on gum care for babies.
The study also shows a lack of information from health professionals on baby oral care and teething.
More than half of mothers (53%) report turning to their mothers for information on managing their babies' teething pain and 17% nationwide asking their grandmothers (rising to 26% in London), with only 10% saying that they get this information from their dentist.
National Smile Month kicks off next week (15 May to 15 June), and Brush-Baby, who commissioned the survey, is pushing for a focus from the spectrum of healthcare professionals on the importance of oral care from birth.
‘Singing Dentist’ and comparethetreatment’s oral heath expert, Dr Milad Shadrooh, supports Brush-Baby's push for consistent messaging across health care professionals to encourage mothers to take their young babies to the dentist and regularly wipe their gums and mouth.
Dr Shadrooh says:
The Brush-Baby Mums & Gums Survey confirms what I have suspected, which is that mums are looking for more information on oral care for their babies. I recommend to mothers to wipe their baby's mouths and gums before teething starts – and I'd love it if mothers did not wait for their baby's first tooth to appear before taking them to the dentist!
Brush-Baby’s Dominique Tillen adds: ‘The good news is that mothers appear to be open to oral care for babies, with 60% saying they think that cleaning a baby's gums or mouth is a good idea. However, sadly our survey shows that almost three-quarters of mothers say that they have never seen any information on oral care for babies.’
With the alarming statistic of one in four (25%) of five year olds having tooth decay with an average of 3.4 decayed teeth and the high cost of dental extractions, change is under way – and in 2016, the 'Little Red Book', the NHS guide and record book every parent receives when their baby is born, added information on oral care.
Professor Liz Kay MBE, Foundation Dean Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University, and contributor to NICE guidelines on the role of schools and nurseries in children's oral health, comments: ‘A lifetime's good oral health starts from birth, with care of baby's gums and emerging teeth and supervised brushing to at least eight years of age. Getting the whole family involved is crucial, because if parents and grandparents are not providing dental care and good oral health role models, a child's teeth are pretty much doomed.’
‘It is a national outrage that, in this country, there have been more than 34,000 tooth extractions per year for the last two years in children under the age of nine, most in hospital under general anaesthetic. This recent survey serves to emphasise the importance of good oral care and hygiene from the very earliest age.’