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New initiative to tackle tooth decay in young people

17 February 2023

Secondary school pupils

A new initiative aiming to combat tooth decay in secondary school pupils is being rolled out in schools across the UK.

Tooth decay affects a third of young people aged 12-15, with this number increasing to half in areas of poverty. Symptoms often include toothache, sleep loss and problems eating, as well as negative impacts upon overall physical health and mental wellbeing.

Recognising the need to prevent dental cavities in young people, researchers from the Universities of Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds, York and Dundee came together to undertake a research project, know as the BRIGHT trial.

This study, which included 4,680 secondary school pupils from across the UK, explored whether a school lesson and text message reminders about toothbrushing twice a day would help prevent tooth decay in young people.

A resource pack was created as a result, to support secondary school teachers in educating their Key Stage 3 pupils about the importance of oral health and toothbrushing.

Professor Nicola Innes, who is Head of Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry and co-lead the BRIGHT trial, and had the following to say:

Poor dental health and toothache negatively impacts young people’s health, wellbeing and education. Their developing independence however, means this is the ideal time to support them in establishing good oral health behaviours for the rest of their life.
Professor Nicola Innes Head of School of Dentistry

The resources, which have been awarded a Quality Mark from the PSHE Association, have already been downloaded a significant number of times, and will hopefully improve the oral health of young people across the UK.

Further research as part of the BRIGHT Trial is ongoing with findings expected to be published later in the year.

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