I have to be honest here – brushing my three-year-old daughter’s teeth in the morning has not always been high on my list of priorities. Although quite a health-conscious person for instance, I know a fair bit about a balanced diet, how much exercise children need and I managed to kick the smoking habit for the sake of my family. There have been days – and probably more than I care to admit when it took all the patience I had to get Esme to eat her breakfast and get dressed. Waiting for her to put her socks on EXACTLY right so there are no “bumpy bits”, when we’re already running late meant just a quick brush of her teeth had to do.
Over the last few months, I’ve been working with public health to develop the Leeds Smiles campaign which launched two weeks ago. The campaign encourages and helps families to look after young children’s teeth. At first, I questioned how important this issue was. And then I read the facts.
Almost a third of five year olds had tooth decay in 2012, and it was the most common reason for hospital admissions in children aged five to nine years in 2012 to 2013. And it is largely preventable. Poor oral health can have a massive detrimental effect on a child’s health and wellbeing, as it can cause infections, pain and impaired nutrition and growth.
I’m extremely proud of, and excited about, the Leeds Smiles campaign. We’ve developed some great games and activities to make brushing fun for little ones, like the tooth brushing timer song which Esme now asks me to play every time she cleans her teeth – and we now always brush for the full two minutes needed.
Taking care of children’s teeth as soon as they get their first tooth, will help to make sure they stay healthy as they grow older.
Get more tips for taking care of little teeth, and check out all the fun activities for children, at the Leeds Smiles website.
Stephanie Sewley, Communications team, Leeds City Council