Supporting oral health—early primary teachers


  • oral health school

    At the start of each day, and just before bed at night, many children that you work with brush their teeth to help maintain a healthy smile.

    In your role as an early primary teacher you can take oral health even further by introducing some simple routines in your school, and helping children and their families to learn about the importance of oral health.

    Healthy foods for healthy teeth

    A healthy diet plays a big part in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. In your school consider working with the canteen, staff and parents to promote healthy eating and offer a variety of nutritious foods in your menu such as:  

    • vegetables
    • fruits
    • cereals
    • lean meat
    • fish
    • chicken
    • legumes
    • milks
    • yoghurts
    • cheeses.

    Also in this edition of Grow & Thrive:

    Oral health—something to smile about

    Supporting oral health—early childhood educators

    Looking after teeth and gums—parents

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    To help prevent tooth decay, minimise availability of processed foods that are high in sugar like:
    • chocolate
    • lollies
    • sweetened breakfast cereals
    • biscuits
    • fruit bars
    • dried fruit 
    • muesli bars. 

    Tip: Help prevent tooth decay by encouraging children to brush their teeth or rinse their mouth with water after meals. 

    Also steer clear of foods that are high in carbohydrate such as savoury, starchy crackers and chips.

    Sugary foods and drinks, and foods that are high in carbohydrate like chips, are often associated with reward and celebrations like birthdays—consider working with staff and parents to offer healthy alternatives on these occasions.

    Choosing the best drinks

    The drinks we choose also have a big influence on oral health—a general rule of thumb is to avoid sugary, acidic drinks such as:
    • soft drink
    • juice
    • cordial
    • flavoured milk
    • sports drinks
    • flavoured water.
    While many of these sugary drinks are marketed to children, water is the best drink that you can give a child. In areas with fluoride in the water, tap water is of particular benefit and is a much less expensive option than bottled water.

    Did you know?
    Children in the poorest areas experience one and a half times the rate of tooth decay and cavities, compared to children in the wealthiest areas. Look out for children in your school who may need extra support to maintain their oral health.
    Parent fact sheets

    You can help to share information about oral health by sharing our Grow & Thrive parent fact sheets with their parents or caregivers. These are packed with information on why oral health is so important, and tips on how to look after those little teeth and gums.

    Tip: Check that your school’s nutrition policy includes dental health guidelines. 

    Where to find help

    If you have particular concerns about a child at your school, the Raising Children Network provides in-depth oral health resources tailored for school-age children.

    When more help is needed, parents and their children can also speak with a range of health professionals including dental professionals, family doctors, maternal and child health nurses and paediatricians.



    Raising Children Network

    Also in this edition of Grow & Thrive:

    Oral health—something to smile about

    Supporting oral health—early childhood educators

    Looking after teeth and gums—parents

    Sign up to the Grow & Thrive newsletter