Children to be taught how to properly brush teeth in kindergarten

Dentist's office.
Dentist's office. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Dentists have worried about children's teeth disintegrating for years, with kindergartens now set to teach four and five-year-olds the proper techniques of toothbrushing.

Everyone knows that teeth should be brushed twice a day, while knowing is only half the battle and action is needed, dentist Anastassia Kuldmaa said.

A study of the dental hygiene of three, six and 12-year-olds from five years ago revealed that the situation was poorest for six-year-olds more than half of whom had cavities in need of dental intervention.

"For some reason, parents think that brushing teeth is a piece of cake. In truth, it is a rather daedal affair as there are 20 teeth, they need to be accessed in a 3D environment where one needs a good feel for them left, right, top and bottom. While parents usually do not let kids still attending kindergarten wash their hair, they are expected to brush their own teeth," Kuldmaa said.

A recent kids' health behavior study found that 66 percent of children brush their teeth as they should, while 28 percent brush theirs once a day and 7 percent, mainly boys, less often than that.

"The recent study showed a positive trend among 11-year-old students, while this disappeared for 13-year-olds. Boys 15 years of age have not changed their habits, while girls have become slightly less diligent," said Alice Haav, expert for the National Institute of Health Development.

The other major reason for cavities is the near-constant availability of food. Figuratively speaking, people eat once a day, from morning until evening.

"Sweets and savory snacks are a major factor in dental health, and we know that around half of students eat sweets more often than five days a week, and we know from another eating habits study that sweet and savory snacks are consumed many times above the recommended limit," Haav said.

While recent projects have been aimed at helping kids learn how to brush their teeth at home, the practice will now be taught to four and five-year-olds in kindergartens.

"Hygiene starts at home, while an adult study from three years ago revealed that between a third and half of adults also brush their teeth once a day or sometimes even skip days. It is difficult to imagine a mom and dad who fail to brush their own teeth demanding their kids do so," Kuldmaa said.

A similar project has been pursued in Scotland over three years and spending on child dental care has fallen threefold. Estonia offers free dental care for children, which cost the state €33 million last year.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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