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Health and Self Care

Oral Health

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.

 

Promoting oral health

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:

  • visiting dentists regularly
  • reading stories about visiting the dentist
  • watching YouTube videos such as 'Topsy and Tim go to the Dentist'
  • brushing teeth together
  • establishing toothbrushing routines

 

Useful resources

Children’s Oral Health: healthcare e-learning, aimed at parents, early years healthcare workers, teachers, nurses, GPs and the public.

PACEY’s oral health advice: includes factsheet for parents.

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.

Save Your Tooth Poster

A Quick Guide to a Healthy Mouth for Parents

Do Dummies Affect Speech?

The use of dummies, also called pacifiers or comforters, is a common practice in many countries.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

There are a few suggested disadvantages:

  • Stopping breast-feeding early – however research in this area is undecided;
  • Increased risk of middle ear infections (otitis media/glue ear);
  • Increased risk of dental problems and crooked teeth if used beyond age three.
Development of speech 

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.  

Advice for Parents & Carers

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.

 
Concerned about your child's speech and language development? You can use ICAN's progress checker below to check whether your child is developing typically for their age.
ICAN Progress Checker
Children at 3 to 4 years will usually be actively learning language and asking many questions.
Children develop skills at different rates, but by 4 years usually children will:
  • Listen to longer stories and answer questions about a storybook they have just read
  • Understand and often use colour, number and time related words, for example, 'red' car, 'three' fingers and 'yesterday / tomorrow'
  • Start to be able to answer questions about ‘why’ something has happened, although this still might be at quite a basic level
  • Use longer sentences and link sentences together
  • Describe events that have already happened, even if their sentences aren’t exactly like adults’ e.g. 'we went park'
  • Enjoy make-believe play
  • Start to like simple jokes even if they don’t understand them
  • Ask many questions using words like ‘what’ ‘where’ and ‘why’
  • Still make mistakes with tense such as say 'runned' for ‘ran’ and 'swimmed' for ‘swam’
  • Have difficulties with a small number of sounds – for example r, w, l, f, th, sh, ch and j
  • Start to be able to plan games with others.

How to Support Your Child

There are lots of things you can do to encourage children at this stage:

  • Have a special time to talk about the day. Talking about what has happened that day will help their memory skills. It will also help them to talk about things they cannot see and things that happened in the past which is an important skill for learning in school
  • Wherever possible, use pictures, objects, puppets, acting, gestures and facial expressions. This will keep a child’s interest
  • Talk about or play games involving opposites like 'on and off' or 'big and little'
  • Join a child in pretend play. Let them take the lead. This will help their language and creativity. Talk about what they are saying and doing rather than asking lots of questions. Your commentary helps their language skills and shows you are listening and interested
  • Reversing roles can be great fun for a child. Let them be the 'mummy' or the 'teacher'. This helps them to talk about new situations
  • Play with and talk about sequences of coloured bricks or shapes, numbers and days of the week.

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:

  • They are struggling to turn ideas into sentences
  • The language they use is jumbled and difficult to understand
  • They are unresponsive or slow to follow instructions.

Physical Exercise

Health Exclusions

Guidance on when we may need to exclude your child from school for health reasons

Toilet Training

Toilet Training Leaflet

Hydration

Water is so good for the body and mind!!

Choking

Norovirus

Help prevent the spread of Norovirus

Norovirus Information Leaflet

Pre School Immunisations and Vaccines

Information on Preschool Immunisations

Vaccine update for Children 2016

Childhood Illness and Well-Being

A Guide to Childhood Illnesses and Well-being

Health Protection for Schools, Nurseries and Other Childcare Facilities 2017

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