Maximising on the benefits of milk for children
Cow’s milk affords many benefits for children. We speak to Phillip End, dentist at Davyhulme Revive, about how dental professionals can encourage healthier habits among young people.
“Milk has two mechanisms of protection. Firstly, it neutralises plaque acids. Secondly, milk contains a protein that interacts with the oral environment. This creates a protective layer over the teeth that helps to prevent dissolution of enamel. It does contain sugar, so there is potential for it to be cariogenic, but this is only a concern with a low saliva flow. Therefore, consumption is not recommended at bed time, but rather during the day. In particular, it is most beneficial after meals as it neutralises acids produced by remaining food debris. As such, it would be best to include within the school routine. A maximum of two glasses of milk is enough to have significant benefit.”
Education and awareness about milk
For children to make the most of the white stuff, education and understanding among parents and teachers is crucial.
“There is reduced awareness about acid erosion in comparison to sugar and its association with decay,” Phil comments. “The 5-a-day principle commonly leads to consumption of excess fruit, resulting in frequent acid attack and dental erosion. Calcium’s neutralising properties are key. Though many children drink milk for healthy bones and teeth, more wide spread understanding of the mechanisms behind this is important.
“Similarly, it’s necessary to reinforce good oral hygiene routines. Some children and parents think it’s OK to drink milk after tooth brushing. Dispelling this myth is a focus for my school visits – only water is allowed.”
Engaging local communities
Phil established the ‘Teach Teeth’ campaign in order to visit local schools, deliver oral health education and improve awareness of the benefits of milk. Establishing connections with schools in this way affords several advantages, as he goes on to explain:
“Teach Teeth is an educational campaign which focuses on delivering important oral health messages in schools through song and dance. I contact school leads directly and arrange to provide talks to groups of children. It’s important to make these sessions as interactive and memorable as possible, so I use music, dance and art to really engage the kids. I will ask what they know about milk and when they should drink it and react to their responses. I also take models to demonstrate correct brushing techniques and invite the children to have a go as well. In addition, I direct them to oral health videos on social media channels like YouTube – most children are already familiar with such platforms.
Improved oral health and practice promotion
“Improved understanding of oral health and the advantages of milk is the main benefit of successful interaction with schools. I also reach parents with take-home leaflets or adding information into school newsletters, for example. A positive for the practice is that it offers sustainable engagement with the local community and shows the business to be actively promoting good health. It’s all about showing dentistry in a better light and tackling misconceptions or potential dental fears before they can take hold of young people. It also provides a form of marketing for the practice.”
World School Milk Day is celebrated in September to help promote the benefits of milk for children. However, you can join the conversation and help spread the word all year round. Why not build relationships with your local schools and see what you can achieve together?
For enquiries about Teach Teeth, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.