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Oral Health

Girl Brushing her teethAround a quarter of the Island’s five year olds have tooth decay.

Poor oral health is known to affect children both physically and psychologically - as tooth decay is preventable, we are keen to reduce rates on the Isle of Man.

Children with severe caries commonly experience:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Disfigurement
  • Acute and chronic infections
  • Eating disruptions
  • 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, which can then impact school performance and the child’s ability to learn.

By brushing your teeth and making sure what you eat and drink is tooth-friendly, you can help prevent tooth decay.

Try out these tips for cutting down on sugar:

  • Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Be aware of foods that may contain surprisingly high sugar content such as dried fruit, smoothies, cereals and stir-in sauces
  • Bring your own tooth-kind snacks when out and about to avoid the temptation of sugary snacks from the shop
  • Opt for sugar-free medicine when available

Learn more about taking care of your teeth and gums on NHS.UK

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 by decay, permanent teeth have no guide to move 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, just before bed.

Top tips for brushing:

  • The toothbrush should be felt on the gums when brushing
  • Thorough toothbrushing should take approximately two minutes
  • Toothbrushes should be replaced when the bristles splay and no longer stand up straight,
  • or after three months – whichever comes first
  • It is just as important to brush and look after baby teeth as it is permanent teeth

Find out more about how to keep your teeth clean on NHS.UK

Oral Health in the Isle of Man

In 2018, Public Health launched Smile of Mann, a supervised toothbrushing programme for all nurseries on the Isle of Man, with the aim of helping towards improving the oral health of young children here.

Following our oral health needs assessment, we have developed a strategy for improving the oral health of children aged 0 – 11 years, residing on the Isle of Man. Read more about our Oral Health Strategy and Implementation Plan for 2021 - 2026.

Social Affairs Policy Review Committee Response

In response to the Report of the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee (SAPRC), the Council of Ministers has made a series of recommendations to government departments to reduce tooth decay and dental caries in children in the Isle of Man.

You can read the full report containing these recommendations on the Tynwald website.

These will be discussed in Tynwald in June after which we will publish more information.

Page reviewed: May 2023

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