News & blogs News The generous Tooth Fairy: £23.7M under the pillows of the nation’s children 12 June 2018 British children receive almost £24m each year from the Tooth Fairy, according to the results of a new nationwide survey. The poll, conducted by the Oral Health Foundation, found that the nation’s youngsters are receiving an average of £1.58 per tooth.1 The charity surveyed more than 2,000 parents from across the United Kingdom, to find out how much the Tooth Fairy leaves for a child’s baby teeth when they fall out. With roughly 15 million baby teeth falling out of kid’s teeth each year, it is estimated that the Tooth Fairy is shelling out £23.7 million annually, a whopping 43.6% more since 2011 (£16.5million). Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, says: “The Tooth Fairy business is increasingly lucrative and has seen major inflation in recent years, but it is really important that children are mindful of just how precious the baby teeth they are placing under their pillows are. “Many believe that milk teeth don’t need to be healthy, as they will just fall out anyway, but this could not be further from the truth. “The health of children’s baby teeth and their oral health in adulthood are closely linked so it is vital that a child’s mouth is kept clean and healthy. We want to see children’s milk teeth fall out naturally and healthily, free from signs of decay.” Earlier this year, the Local Government Association (LGA) released statistics on children’s hospital operations and revealed there were nearly 43,000 tooth extractions in the last year, a growth of nearly a fifth compared with four years ago.2 “The sustained and heartbreaking growth in childhood tooth extractions, demonstrated by the figures released by the LGA at the beginning of the year, illustrate a serious problem that needs to be urgently addressed,” Dr Carter continued. “The main culprit in the UK for baby teeth needing to be extracted under general anesthesia is tooth decay, caused by poor diet and oral health routines. Diet plays a huge part when it comes to oral health and unfortunately many children are consuming too much sugar, too often, which results in rotten teeth that have to come out.” As part of National Smile Month, a charity campaign to promote good oral health, the Oral Health Foundation is calling for the levels of tooth decay around the country to be addressed by reducing childhood sugar intake. Dr Ben Atkins, a Manchester-based dentist and Trustee of the Oral Health Foundation says: “It is essential that good oral health starts from when the very first baby tooth emerges and continues throughout childhood and into adult life. “Try your best to limit children’s snacking and replace unhealthy sugary snacks with healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables. The Change4Life mobile app is a fantastic tool you can use to achieve this. “Children should understand the value of looking after their teeth and have fun doing it. If you struggle to get your children involved or enthusiastic about brushing with a fluoride toothpaste then consider using songs, games or mobile apps which they can brush along to. “Don’t hesitate to take you children to the dentist at a very young age, even if they accompany you on one of your appointments, regular visits will help you to gain information, advice and are essential throughout childhood and beyond.” The emphasis on improving the oral health education of the children in the UK is part of National Smile Month, a charity campaign which aims to promote the importance of good oral health, regardless how young or old a person is. The campaign is being supported by some of the nation’s best known oral health brands, including Oral-B, Wrigley, Philips, Regenerate Enamel Science, Polo® Sugar Free and Curaprox. Sources Oral Health Foundation (2018) ‘National Smile Month Survey 2018’, Atomik Research, United Kingdom, Sample Size 2,005 Local Government Association (2018) 170 operations a day to remove rotten teeth in children. [Online] Available from: https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/170-operations-day-remove-rotten-teeth-children [Accessed 07/06/2018].