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Oral Health

Children’s Oral Health

Around a quarter of five year olds on the Isle of Man have tooth decay. Poor oral health can affect children both physically and psychologically. Children with severe caries commonly experience pain, discomfort, disfigurement, acute and chronic infections, and eating and sleep disruptions. Alongside the physical effects, children with poor oral health are almost three times more likely to miss days from school as a result of the dental pain, and have poorer school performance, with the consequently diminished ability to learn. Tooth decay is preventable, and we are keen to reduce rates here.

Supervised Toothbrushing Pilot Programme

The supervised toothbrushing pilot programme is a three month programme, led by the Isle of Man Government Public Health Directorate. It is based upon Scotland’s national Childsmile programme; designed to improve the oral health of children in Scotland. Crossroads, The Children's Centre and Hopes & Dreams have agreed to participate in this initial pilot programme.

Parents/Guardians of all children aged two and above in each nursery setting will receive a letter explaining the programme, accompanied by a consent form. Child participation is dependent upon parental/guardian consent; without it the child will be unable to participate in the programme.

Supervised Toothbrushing Pilot Programme

Supervised Toothbrushing Programme

  • Each child is supplied with their own toothbrush (to be kept at the nursery) showing a symbol which matches with a corresponding symbol on a storage system and wall chart.
  • Every day they will be supervised brushing their teeth with their own toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste supplied by the programme.
  • All nurseries participating will follow the Scottish National Standards for Toothbrushing.
  • The toothbrushing programme will be monitored to ensure a good level of service is provided.

For more detailed information about the toothbrushing programme and its standards, visit:

Children are supervised in the programme because young children need help with toothbrushing on a daily basis. At home, children should be encouraged to toothbrush themselves, but they will still need help and should be supervised with daily toothbrushing.

The supervised toothbrushing programme is in place to enhance the brushing practice that takes place at home (it is not to be seen as a replacement for this).

Importance of toothbrushing

The foundation for healthy permanent teeth in children is laid during the first year of life. When baby teeth are damaged or destroyed as a result of decay, they are unable to guide permanent teeth into their proper position, resulting in crowded or crooked adult teeth. If left untreated, decay can also spread from the baby tooth to the permanent tooth forming underneath.

It is essential to establish a proper oral hygiene routine early in life to help ensure the development of strong, healthy teeth.

Twice-daily brushing at home should take place every day, once in the morning and once at night, before bed. 

If you would like further information on the supervised toothbrushing pilot scheme please contact the Public Health Directorate on +44 1624 642639 or email

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