Survey: Parents want schools to educate kids on oral health

Two-thirds (65%) of U.S. parents are looking to schools to help reinforce the importance of oral health to their kids, saying it is extremely or very important for schools to teach children about taking care of their teeth, according to a new public opinion survey commissioned by Oral Health America (OHA).

"If we want our children to be in school, ready to learn, both parents and schools have a vested interest in working in partnership with dental care providers to teach good habits that will last a lifetime, and keep teeth and mouths healthy," said Beth Truett, president and CEO of OHA, in a press release.

The survey was conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of Oral Health America in May and June 2010. It included 1,144 U.S. parents and 1,346 U.S. children ages 8-18.

According to the survey, children do not report brushing and flossing as often as their parents think they should. In addition, seven in 10 parents say they give a brushing reminder on a daily basis, but less than half that number of children (34%) remember hearing their parents give these reminders.

Schools are not significantly better at getting the message of dental health across to students, the survey found. At school, just four in 10 (39%) children report learning about oral or dental health in the past year. As they get older, children hear about oral health from both parents and schools less and less. Elementary school students (65%) are far more likely to have received this instruction than middle (36%) and high school (19%) students, despite the fact that 78% of teenagers have experienced tooth decay.

"Parents should commit to spending just two minutes twice a day with younger children to make sure they are not only brushing and flossing their teeth, but doing it right," Truett said. "Older children need to know why they should keep their mouths clean and the affects of poor oral health on appearance and employability. Schools can help by integrating mouth health into health and science classes at all grade levels, explaining oral health's importance to overall health, and demonstrating how plaque affects teeth and gums."

Copyright © 2010

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