NEW SURVEY REVEALS MOTHERS ARE UNAWARE OF THE BENEFITS OF VERY EARLY ORAL CARE.
Brush-Baby, the specialist baby and kids oral health company whose founder, Dominique Tillen, lobbied Parliament at an APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) in November 2016 for toothbrushing in nurseries, releases new survey data in the Brush-Baby Mums & Gums Survey reporting mothers’ habits and perceptions on baby oral care and teething.
The survey reveals confusion amongst mothers including what age a child should first visit the dentist, with only 13% believing they should first take their baby to the dentist at 6 months. 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. Over 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% – over 1-in-4 in London), with only 10% saying that they get this information from their dentist.
Currently, there is limited official messaging on the importance of oral care for babies and as National Smile Month kicks off next week (15th May to 15th June 2017), Brush-Baby is pushing for a focus from the spectrum of healthcare professionals on the importance of oral care from birth.
Indeed 94% of mothers believe that either GPs, health visitors or dentists are best placed to provide baby oral care advice, with almost a quarter (22%) saying it should fall to health visitors.
The renowned ‘Singing Dentist’, 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 comments “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!”
“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” says Dominique Tillen. “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, commented: “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.”
 The Brush-Baby Mums & Gums Survey was carried out across 1,000 UK mothers of children aged 0-6 years by OnePoll.
 Currently there is no consistent messaging across the spectrum of health professionals for mothers of babies under 3 years on when they should first take them to the dentist.
 National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of five-year-old children 2015. A report on the prevalence and severity of dental decay. Published: May 2016 PHE publications gateway number: 2016050
Also reporting 2014-15 figures show a 9.8% rise in children having extractions due to tooth decay.