Children shift morning routine to kindergarten

Harry Holland, 4, left, and Kayla Flood, 3, shine their pearly whites at Seymour Kindergarten.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Harry Holland, 4, left, and Kayla Flood, 3, shine their pearly whites at Seymour Kindergarten.

The morning ritual of brushing your teeth just got a lot more fun for some Marlborough children.

This year, seven kindergartens have youngsters brushing their pearly whites at school, accompanied by a song from teachers.

At Seymour Kindergarten, in Blenheim, children even get a medal if they brush their teeth every morning for six weeks.

Mackenzie Dawes, 4, brushes right to the back teeth.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Mackenzie Dawes, 4, brushes right to the back teeth.

Teacher Char Morrison says the children are enjoying the new routine.

"It's just a way of promoting healthy living."

The Marlborough Kindergarten Association runs the programme at seven kindergartens in the region, aimed at improving the oral health of children.

Kayla Flood, 3, earns a gold star by brushing her teeth.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Kayla Flood, 3, earns a gold star by brushing her teeth.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board oral health educator Esme Palliser says brushing teeth at school teaches children how to care for their teeth, and encourages awareness in families, to make sure "no children fall through the cracks".

More than 40 per cent of Marlborough children have tooth decay by the age of 5, Esme says.

"Tooth decay, which is preventable, is one of the most common diseases in young children in our region and is the number one reason to undergo general anaesthetic for extractions before they are 7-years-old."

Seymour Kindergarten is one of seven in Marlborough that have children brush their teeth at school.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Seymour Kindergarten is one of seven in Marlborough that have children brush their teeth at school.

Baby teeth are very important for children, Esme says.

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"Without healthy baby teeth, young children are at risk of not being able to eat properly, speak properly and their self-esteem and socialisation can really suffer."

The health board has funded toothbrushes, toothpaste and hygiene gear including gloves and toothbrush containers for each kindergarten.

A special storage system is used to make sure the toothbrushes do not touch each other, and each brush is numbered so children can find their own brush each morning.

Teachers have also been trained to identify tooth decay using disposable gloves, Esme says.

If a teacher finds a child has dental problems, they will talk to a parent and can refer them to a clinic for free dental care.

Seymour Kindergarten pupil Mackenzie Dawes says her favourite part about brushing her teeth is when she brushes her tongue.

 - The Marlborough Express

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