Skip to content
News / October 31, 2022

Report on tooth decay and oral health

by Guy Hiscott

We highlight a report in the Irish Independent, carrying great oral health care advice for patients and parents

A major report into children’s health has been released through the Irish Independent.

Children’s Health report is available on

Titled advancing acute paediatrics in Ireland for the future of children and young people, the report is comprehensive in its wide ranged coverage of issues.

The report was distributed with the Irish Independent newspaper and was aimed at dentists and dental teams, parents and families, carers, new mothers, healthcare professionals, paediatricians, the general public, GPs and policy makers.

There was a major focus in the report on tooth decay and oral health.

Children and young people – 18 years and under – comprise one-quarter of Ireland’s population. These young people are a valued and positive asset for Ireland’s future.

Paediatrics in Ireland

Ms Eilísh Hardiman, chief executive of Children’s Health Ireland said: “When looking at acute paediatric services in our hospitals, we have many excellent services, while others require continued development, especially when it comes to providing timely access. Reducing the length of time that children are waiting for review and treatment is currently the highest priority for Children’s Health Ireland.

“The ambitious transformation of healthcare requires long-term planning and policy change. The health policy and plan for acute paediatrics are based on the 2016 National Model of Care for Paediatric Healthcare Services. It is in keeping with Sláintecare and will be fully in place within the next decade.”

Core principles of care

Eilísh went on: “This model of care stipulates having an integrated network of paediatric services based on two core principles.

“The first is that children and young people should be treated as close to their homes as clinically appropriate. The second is that all national and highly specialist acute services are consolidated in one children’s hospital co-located with a large academic adult hospital.

“The highest concentration of children is in the eastern region where the rollout of the new model of care for acute paediatrics is well-advanced.

“The development of acute paediatric services in regional hospitals is an integral part of this model of care.

“An integrated network of services across hospitals is already in place for cancer services and is now being rolled out for Ireland’s trauma services. The same approach is required for acute paediatrics across healthcare services, professional education and paediatric research and innovation.”

Facilities for children

Children’s Health Ireland currently provides paediatric services in Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Blanchardstown. The highest concentration of children is in the eastern region where the rollout of the new model of care for acute paediatrics is well-advanced.

New facilities for outpatient and urgent/emergency care in Blanchardstown and Tallaght provide local and convenient services northwest and southwest of Dublin. The new children’s hospital building is now over 70% complete and will provide all national and some all-island services for our sickest children.

Eilísh concluded with: “We welcome continued investments in paediatric services, through our new hospital project and in our integrated network of paediatric services. By doing this, all children will benefit equally, and we can continue to protect and nurture our nation’s children and young people.”

The dental bit: caries risk

Ms Etain Kett, public affairs and communications manager, Dental Health Foundation Ireland, contributed to the report saying: “Children are at risk of tooth decay as soon as their first tooth appears! Tooth decay is diet-related and is the most common chronic childhood disease. However, it is preventable.”

She went on to say: “Children with tooth decay are at risk of pain, infection, and tooth loss. It may affect their nutrition, growth, and daily life or cause higher risk of decay in their adult teeth.

“Brushing their teeth is important for oral health, but a balanced/low sugar diet is equally important. This is because tooth decay happens when sugar in a child’s mouth (from consuming food and drinks) is turned into acid by bacteria in the dental plaque. This acid can damage the tooth enamel, causing a hole or cavity. Plaque is a colourless, sticky film that builds up on the teeth every day, and is removed by brushing properly.

Practising proper oral hygiene

“Introducing an oral health routine to a child before their teeth appear is good practice; by cleaning their gums using a clean, damp cloth after feeding. When the first tooth appears, gently brush with water and a soft brush twice daily and avoid toothpaste unless recommended by a dentist. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from age two, as this helps to make teeth stronger. Supervise their toothbrushing until around seven years of age. Brush twice daily – at night before bed and in the morning – for about two to three minutes. Encourage and teach them to spit out the toothpaste at the end of brushing without rinsing afterwards.”

Include as a big quote in the article Children are not born with a sweet tooth. Introduce healthy eating habits including lots of fruit and vegetables.

Good habits help prevent tooth decay

“Children are not born with a sweet tooth. Introduce healthy eating habits including lots of fruit and vegetables. Offering them sweet drinks or food or dipping a soother in anything sugary is not recommended.

“Bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transferred from an adult to an infant, so it is best not to share toothbrushes, spoons, and cups or lick soothers.

“Sugary food and drinks between meals increase the chance of tooth decay. Water or milk are the best if the child is thirsty.

“Be aware of medicines and their sugar content. Always ask for sugar-free medication from your pharmacist.

“Visit your dentist by baby’s first birthday for advice on caring for their teeth

Finally, don’t forget that you can set a good example. Be a role model by brushing your own teeth twice a day, flossing, and limiting your sugar intake.”

This is all sound and solid oral health care advice for parents and patients, given at a time just after COVID-19, when it is needed more than ever.”

The campaign is available on