Children as young as two going days without brushing their teeth

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  • More than a third of Scottish children have gone over a day without brushing their teeth
  • Almost one in ten not brushing for over two days
  • A quarter of Scottish parents admitted their children were three or older before they saw the dentist for the first time
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Scottish children as young as two are going days without brushing their teeth according to new research.

And experts warn that up to a third of children are suffering with tooth decay by the age of three.

A new survey of parents of children aged 2-11 shows more than a third of Scottish children have gone over a day without brushing their teeth, with almost one in ten not brushing for over two days.

Over 15 per cent of parents say their children lie about brushing their teeth when they haven’t, and the same amount deliberately go to sleep before brushing their teeth to avoid the night-time routine.

Worryingly, a quarter of many Scottish parents admitted that their children were three or older before they saw the dentist for the first time, and the same number said they had a problem taking their children to the dentist because the children were too scared.

The new statistics come as public health officials warned that up to one third of children are suffering from tooth decay by the age of three.

While parents try a multitude of methods to persuade their children to adopt good oral health routines, over a quarter of Scottish parents admitted that the sugary sweets and treats they offer children as a reward for good behaviour have the biggest negative effect on their teeth, while almost a fifth blamed treats from the grandparents as the biggest negative effect on their children’s dental health.

Henry Clover, deputy chief dental officer at dental payment plan specialist Denplan, said “It is clear that while parents have the best of intentions with their children’s dental health, it can be difficult to keep up good habits amongst a backdrop of sugary treats and children’s reluctance to follow a good oral health routine.

“There are several techniques parents can adopt including brushing alongside their children or brushing to music.

“The most important step however is to keep them interested for long enough to reach the vital two minute brushing time and engage them in the importance of cleaning their teeth as soon as their first milk teeth appear. Good habits last a lifetime.”

In light of the research findings, Denplan is encouraging parents across Scotland to take part in the Big Summer Brush-Up, making the most of the summer holidays to visit the dentist and spend time practising brushing techniques with their children.

Working with five families, Denplan has also developed ‘Denplan’s Little Book of Healthy Smiles’, containing handy tips and advice on how to enthuse unwilling children to brush up on cleaning teeth, written for parents by parents.

To find out more about how to improve your family’s oral health visit Denplan.