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‘Less than a third’ of children are brushing their teeth twice a day

Just 30% of children are brushing their teeth the recommended twice a day – leaving them at risk for serious dental problems later in life.

A study undertaken by, which offers the most comprehensive stem cell banking service in the UK, has shown that an alarming number of youngsters were failing to stick to the current guidelines for their dental health.

The study, which was conducted with 600 families, showed:

60% of 2- to 4-year olds brush once a day
70% of 4- to 8-year olds brush once a day
80% of parents did not know how long their children brushed their teeth for
3% of parents used a timer to check how long their children were brushing

Responses to the survey, which was conducted with 600 families, showed that of 2 – 4 year olds, 60% brush once a day, despite the NHS guidelines that teeth should be brushed twice a day, including once before sleeping. Interestingly, the report showed that in 4 – 8 year olds that number rose to 70% – perhaps suggesting that as children grow older, parents tend to let them take responsibility for their own dental hygiene, with worrying results.

Anna Edwards, spokesperson for, pointed out that as well as potentially costly fillings and abscesses, parents could be causing long-term damage for their children’s teeth.

“Younger children tend to be more resistant to tooth brushing, but caring for your teeth is a lifelong job. Not brushing regularly can lead to gum disease, which has been proven to have a number of serious health risks associated, including cardiovascular disease. Parents may think their children will look after their own oral hygiene once they’re old enough to brush, but it’s not worth leaving to chance.”

NHS guidelines show that, as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, gum disease has been linked to complication with strokes, diabetes and even rheumatoid arthritis – but it is easily avoided with proper dental hygiene. Dentists recommend brushing for a full two minutes, twice a day to prevent gum disease – but StemProtect’s study showed that 80% of parents failed to monitor the length of time their children were brushing for and that just 3% used a timer.

Official guidelines suggest that parents should monitor or assist with their children’s brushing until they are ten years old to instill good brushing habits and check that technique is correct.

Edwards continued:

“Parents can help their children get into good habits with brushing quite easily; using a 2-minute timer in the bathroom and reward charts for younger children are both very effective at creating a familiar routine that they will be less likely to forget as they gain independence.

“While it doesn’t seem like a life or death situation while they are younger and have their milk teeth, encouraging good dental hygiene and keeping their gums healthy will have long-lasting effects well into their adult life and can help to avoid the very real consequences of gum disease.”