Public Health England commissioned this feasibility study of a facilitated toothbrushing and oral health programme. The aim was to support sustained awareness of oral health in 2, 3 and 4 year olds in early years settings as part of the aspiration to achieve a generation free from tooth decay, improve children’s school readiness and give every child the Best Start in Life.
This study, undertaken by 4Children, looked into the feasibility of running a supervised toothbrushing programme for 2, 3 and 4 year olds in private and voluntary early years settings as well as with childminders. The programme was rolled out in 42 of 4Children’s own nurseries, 10 nurseries in the Bright Horizons chain, 16 nurseries in the Toad Hall chain and 20 childminders through the Leap Ahead Childminder Agency (CMA).
The study found that:
- The delivery of this programme is easily manageable within settings
- Cost implications for settings are low
- The roll-out of the programme increased practitioners’ knowledge in toothbrushing technique, appropriate types and amounts of toothpaste and appropriate storage of brushes
- The roll-out of the programme increased parental knowledge in toothbrushing technique, appropriate types and amounts of toothpaste and the appropriate brushes to use
- The supervised toothbrushing programme has facilitated an increase in numbers of parents either attending or planning to attend a dentist with their child
- The supervised toothbrushing programme has had an impact on claimed behaviour change, whereby most children were less reluctant to brush their teeth at home at the end of the programme
Public Health England has also published a toolkit to support commissioning of supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years settings and schools. Many local authorities in England already commission such programmes. This toolkit will help commissioners, public health teams and providers make sure their programmes are evidence-based and safe, and have clear accountability and reporting arrangements.