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Elementary School Teacher

Case Studies

This case study relates to a supervised toothbrushing club run in Tinsley Meadows Primary Academy in Sheffield with Foundation Stage 1 children.




The teacher was aware of the impact tooth decay was having on children in his class in terms of toothache, and its impact on the children’s development of speech and their learning generally. He wanted to introduce an initiative to prevent tooth decay that would fit in with the day-to-day running of the class and the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) curriculum, but which was also fun for children.


How did they do it?


The teacher contacted the local authority who put him in touch with the oral health promotion team. They had a meeting, discussed the options and the teacher sought approval from the school’s senior leadership team to set up a toothbrushing club. A member of the oral health promotion team provided staff with training, a protocol to follow and all the toothbrushes, toothpaste and toothbrush racks the school would need to run the club for a term. They also ran a workshop to explain to parents what it would involve and answer any oral health questions generally. The oral health promotion staff member visited one month later to see how things were running and then kept in touch regularly to provide additional supplies and check the protocol was being followed. The club has been running successfully for over 5 years now.


Were there any challenges in doing this? If so how did they overcome them?


At first, a few staff members at the school were worried about the potential for it not to run smoothly or to be too messy, but they soon realised the toothbrushing club could be run easily and quickly and be no messier than other activities!


The main challenge has been having to suspend the club due to the pandemic, but the club was restarted in 2022 and is now increasing in size with more children taking part.


What benefits have they seen from doing this and how do they know the approach was successful?


The teacher has seen benefits in terms of children enjoying brushing their teeth and learning from watching each other. He has had very positive feedback from parents who feel their children are more co-operative with brushing at home. 


David Yates, teacher at Tinsley Meadows said:


"Because at first I did think... we’re going to do toothbrushing now and we’ve got 60 children, what if it is chaos and they’re all brushing each other’s hair, you know, things like that, or they all share… But they are really, really good at it… I am proud of them. The children seem to enjoy and engage with it. It’s a whole group experience so it’s something that we do as a shared thing."


In the school, they link the toothbrushing club to other topics about healthy diet and role play about visiting the dentist using props and stories.


For other nurseries or schools wanting to do a similar thing, the teacher said he would recommend finding someone locally to provide support and training and then give it a try!

Many thanks to David Yates (Nursery Teacher) and the Foundation Stage team at Tinsley Meadows Primary Academy in Sheffield for their support developing this case study and supporting the BRUSH project.

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