smile promises nursery registration how we did it support poster why stop-the-rot?

"The following information has been compiled from 18 years of my own experience as a Dentist both in the NHS and the private sector. It is a summary of the advice I give to the parents of my own child patients."

~ Graham Wilding BDS

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· Sack the Sugar · Beat the Sweets · Eat, Drink and Brush

More detail of how to apply this advice in a nursery group can be found on our "How we did it" page.

In order for a Nursery Group or School to be able to register with us as a "Tooth Friendly Nursery" they must make three "Smile Promises." The promises are not difficult to follow. It is not about making work for busy teachers it is more about raising the awareness and making some simple lifestyle choices.

We do not "check" or "police" nurseries for the smile promises. Children depend upon their honesty and sincerity to follow Tooth Friendly lifestyles.

Sack the sugar

Refined sugar (sucrose) causes tooth decay.

Jamie Oliver showed us just how much rubbish is put into children's school meals without our knowledge. The same is true of sugar in processed foods. Just as a test go to your nearest supermarket and check the packaging to see how many foods you can find that do not contain sugar. If the packet says "carbohydrates" then the chances are it contains sucrose. When we rely so much on processed foods it is virtually impossible to totally avoid refined sugar so the only thing we can try and do is to try and control it.

What can we do?
  1. Always check the packaging of processed foods. That means everything from baked beans and breakfast cereal to biscuits and cakes.
  2. Choose the ones that do not contain sugar or keep the ones that do to an absolute minimum.

Beat the sweets

The most damaging type of sugar is the sticky kind which stays in the mouth the longest. Sticky sugar is commonly found in sweets and toffees. Children become addicted to sweets not just because they taste sweet but more importantly because they are associated with comfort and reward. They also get addicted to the “high” of the energy rush and that can cause disruptive behavioural problems. Controlling sugar and sweets at nursery can help in maintaining order.

What can we do?

  1. Avoid sweets, toffees and chocolate as far as possible.
  2. Reward children with fruit or small inexpensive toys. Remember they are more important as tokens of praise and affection than of sweet treats.

Eat, drink and brush

As long as we do not use them in place of nutritional food, puddings and ice creams that contain sugar can be a pleasant second course to a meal.
Fizzy drinks contain phosphoric acid, carbonic acid and usually sugar, all of which rot teeth.
Puddings and drinks are usually the last thing that children have as part of their meals and that makes them more harmful.

What can we do? Make sure that children clean their teeth after every meal.

  1. If children have a sugary pudding make sure that they always eat a piece of cheese or drink a glass of milk (not milk shake and without a straw) afterwards. This will help to neutralise the acid.
  2. Because so many processed foods contain “hidden” sugar it is best to make sure that children clean their teeth after every meal. That means cleaning at nursery and at school. Some people say that teeth can be worn down by cleaning too often and this can be true - for adults. For children it is more important to get them into the habit of cleaning their teeth after every meal.
  3. Chose fruit instead of sweets and biscuits for mid morning or mid afternoon snacks. It is the continual snacking on sugar and sweets which is most harmful to their teeth.
  4. Keep sweets out of party bags. Children tend to snack on them all the way home. Not only is that harmful to their teeth but it spoils their appetite before a more nutritious evening meal. Badges, stickers and inexpensive puzzles and games are more fun.
  5. Children tend to copy one another, especially the younger ones copying the older ones, and that includes healthy eating and tooth brushing. Once the good habits are in place they can be self perpetuating.

If you want to register your own nursery, read the Smile Promises and include them in your own good practice. Remember these are lifestyle choices they are not just part of a one week smile promotion or health awareness day.

All it takes is a little thought and a willingness to prevent children from suffering from toothache.