Why oral health is included in the EYFS framework
This has been included because good oral health habits need to be formed from the earliest age. Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it’s still a serious problem among young children.
Nearly a quarter of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay, with 3 or 4 teeth affected on average. Tooth extraction is one of the most common procedures for children under 6 in hospital. Extraction is also the most common reason for hospital admission for children aged 6 to 10. Children from more deprived backgrounds are more likely to have tooth decay.
Children who have toothache, or need treatment, may have pain or infections. This can have a wider effect and lead to problems eating, sleeping, socialising and learning.
Be playful with children about oral health. Suggest they brush the teeth of dolls or soft toys. Read stories about teeth and smiles. Talk about healthy food and drinks that help to grow strong teeth, and those that do not. Get them to look at their own and sibling/parents' teeth, using mirrors.
You can also support children’s awareness of oral health by:
Children’s Oral Health: healthcare e-learning, aimed at parents, early years healthcare workers, teachers, nurses, GPs and the public.
PACEY’s nutrition spotlight, encouraging healthy eating habits.
Delivering oral health from Public Health England, includes a quick guide to healthy mouths in children.
Change4life children’s centre toolkit from Public Health England, for promoting healthy eating and dental health.
Do Dummies Affect Speech?
For many families, the most important advantage of the use of dummies is their role in helping babies settle down to sleep or to soothe them. Some studies show that dummies can help establish good sucking patterns in very young babies, especially those born prematurely.
Several research projects have begun looking at a correlation between dummy sucking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and whether using a dummy lowers the risk of SIDS. This area of investigation is very new and SIDS support organisations do not recommend the use of dummies as a preventative measure.
There are a few suggested disadvantages:
There is some evidence to suggest that frequent dummy use in the daytime may affect young children’s speech sound development. Common sense would suggest that having something in their mouths will make babies and toddlers less likely to babble and experiment with sounds, both of which are important for the development of speech. However, current evidence suggests that any speech sound errors associated with dummy use do clear up as children get older.
There is a lot of confusing advice available about the use of dummies and it is important to be aware of the range of arguments.
Dummies can be useful in settling young babies and encouraging strong sucking patterns, but their specific usefulness declines after a developmental age of about six months. It may also be advisable to restrict dummy use to night time where possible. However, there is no strong evidence that dummy use will impact the development of speech skills in young children. There is useful advice and tips on reducing dummy use here.
How to Support Your Child
There are lots of things you can do to encourage children at this stage:
Things to Look Out For
By 3 and a half years old a child should be understood by people outside the family. If not, parents should seek advice from a speech and language therapist.
You should be concerned if:
Pre School Immunisations and Vaccines
Childhood Illness and Well-Being