Dozens of Sheffield primary schools and nurseries are setting up teeth-brushing clubs this month, giving kids around the age of five a free brush and toothpaste.
The welcome move comes thanks to a joint push from Sheffield Council and Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s Trust, with 40 schools joining the scheme that was pioneered by 26 other schools and nurseries in 2014.
Worryingly, the average five-year-old in the city has a higher than average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth.
And so it’s great to see schools encouraging teeth cleaning at school to try and rectify this problem, with many success stories meaning that more oral cleaning is going on at home as well.
But where do you draw the line between teaching and parenting?
The fact that schools are tackling this in lesson time is admirable on one level because it is improving the health and awareness of our young people and will ultimately reduce the burden on health resources.
Schools do, of course, play a huge role in ensuring that our children are as fit and healthy as possible, whether it’s encouraging them to play a range of sports or later in life educating them about sexual health.
Cleaning teeth regularly, however, is a life skill that should be taught at home from an early age. It’s a personal hygiene issue, along with washing your body and hair.
It’s the responsibility of the parent.
Any parent plying their kids with fizzy drinks and failing to make sure their teeth are cleaned are letting themselves and their children down.
I give a big thumbs up to the teachers who have taken part in this initiative and the health leaders who have initiated it with those at the council.
But I despair completely that our society has reached the stage where schools are having to spend time ticking off yet another parenting job that should be nailed at home and not in the classroom.