New 2010 Tooth Brushing Regulations To Take Effect Immediately .

from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care :

“Is it true that we have to brush children’s teeth?”

“EEC’s new regs require educators to assist children in brushing their teeth whenever children remain in care for more than four hours and/or consume a meal in child care.

One in four Massachusetts kindergartners have dental decay; 50% of which goes untreated. Low income children affected almost twice as often as their more affluent peers.

Early tooth loss is linked to failure to thrive, impaired speech development, poor concentration, and reduced self-esteem.

    For these reasons, many EEC-licensed programs (including all Massachusetts Head Start programs) already practice regular tooth-brushing.

    EEC is working in partnership with the Department of Public Health and others to improve oral health in Massachusetts and will provide training and resources to assist programs in implementing these requirements.”

    from the Boston Channel:

    Children Required To Brush After Meals

    A new mandate in Massachusetts will require day care providers to help children brush their teeth after a meal.As NewsCenter 5’s Liz Brunner reported Monday, while it’s a state law, parents can opt out.

    Tooth brushing is becoming part of the daily routine at day cares across Massachusetts.

    Starting this month, any child who has a meal in day care or is in care for more than four hours will be required to brush their teeth, according to the Department of Early Education and Care.

    “We’ve notified the parents and we’ve talked to all the children about tooth brushing and good oral hygiene,” said Nicole Chan, who works at Knowledge Beginnings in Needham, Mass.

    Improving oral hygiene is the driving force behind the new regulations.

    “One out of four children have tooth decay. Fifty percent of them aren’t treated,” said Dr. Maria Georgaklis, a pediatric dentist who works at Cleveland Circle Dental Associates.

    Georgaklis says parents should embrace the regulations to protect their teeth of their children.

    “This will prevent tooth decay,” she said.

    But some parents are concerned about germs. Knowledge Beginnings has a system in place to address this issue.

    “We’re providing the toothbrushes, the holders, the cases and the toothpastes, as well,” said Chan.

    And teachers are the only ones who can hand the child their toothbrush.

    Even though the tooth brushing requirement is a state mandate, parents can opt out.”

    Where was State Senator Scott Brown when these regs were passed ?
    Is newly elected US Senator Brown in the pocket of the dental industry ?
    What about Martha Coakley ? Was she too busy not campaigning ?
    Why was this news timed to coincide with the release of the new
    dental themed movie TheToothfairy starring pro wrestler Dwayne
    (“The Rock”) Johnson ?
    Would Massachusetts’ generous movie industry tax credits have anything to do with it ?



Filed under Uncategorized


  1. Dear Mr. Vermin Supreme– Your inquiry regarding the oral health requirement in the Department of Early Education and Care’s regulations was forwarded to me for a response. Answers to your particular questions follow below.

    Is MA the first state to adopt this requirement?
    We are unaware of whether other states require licensed child care programs to offer the opportunity for toothbrushing to enrolled children. However, Federally funded Head Start programs are required to offer toothbrushing to all enrolled children. Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. Head Start programs have been successfully practicing tooth brushing with children for several years.

    Are there any penalties for violating it?
    If a program does not allow enrolled children the opportunity to brush their teeth at all, the program will cited by its EEC licensor and will receive technical assistance in how to implement a dental health curriculum.

    If a child refuses to brush their teeth, how are the staff supposed to respond?
    Parents may chose to have their children opt out of this requirement by simply putting their request to excuse their children from tooth brushing in writing. Supporting parent choice and helping parents make informed decisions are core EEC values. Just as if a parent doesn’t want their child to drink juice during snack time, or doesn’t want their child to go outside to play, a parent can choose to have their child not brush his/her teeth during the hours their child is in care. The important thing to note, however, is that this initiative is a “curriculum” on good oral health, and it is EEC’s expectation that providers give parents the appropriate information and resources to make good decisions. If a child’s parents have not opted out of the toothbrushing program, then the educator can work with the child in a manner appropriate to the child’s age and developmental stage to persuade the child to brush without forcing him/her to do so. If a child whose parents have not opted of the toothbrushing program continues to refuse to brush, the educator should discuss the matter with the parents to work out a solution that works for all.

    What are the studies/research the requirement is based on?
    There are numerous studies on the advantages of regular toothbrushing for children’s oral and overall health, and its relevance to school readiness. The Catalyst Institute conducted a 2007 study on the oral health of Massachusetts’ children showed that 15% of Kindergarten students surveyed had untreated dental decay on an average of 2.5 teeth. Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more so than asthma. If untreated, dental decay results in cavities, pain, infection and, in some instances, devastating consequences for a child’s overall health, including sickness and mortality. Untreated dental caries can inhibit learning, speech, and eating, leading to problems in school and poor nutrition. Oral health has a clear relationship to education: U.S. children lose more than 51 million school hours due to dental-related illness, according to a 2000 report of the Surgeon General.

    Is this a slippery slope that will lead to other segments of society being forced to brush their teeth?
    EEC’s regulations regarding toothbrushing are designed as an educational measure to show children both the importance and correct way to brush teeth. It is EEC’s hope that through implementation of this dental hygiene curriculum, children will adopt good oral health practices thereby reducing incidences of dental decay.

    Denise J. Karlin
    Assistant General Counsel
    Department of Early Education and Care
    51 Sleeper Street
    Fourth Floor
    Boston, MA 02210

  2. Stephen Leahy

    Ms. Karlin. seems to think that she knows what is best for each child. I am sure that she (and most everyone) “know” that brushing teeth is a good thing for kids to do and learn. But I do not need the State to brush my kids’ teeth. I am a parent. It is my responsibility to raise my kids as I see fit. How many man-hours and dollars has the State spent initiating this project, implementing this project and will they maintain this project? The State of MA has many serious issues to deal with, yet we get an increased government to brush my kids’ teeth?!? Are you serious Ms. Karlin? Please do us all a favor. I do not want your personal views affecting my children or me. If you want to benefit the kids of MA, leave office and help close the Dept. of Early Education Care. Save the State’s taxpayers the tens of millions of dollars that your department spends. I will take my small part of those tens of millions and do something productive with the money. And in the meantime, I will still be brushing my kids’ teeth; without your “help”.

  3. Frank Zentura

    I guess the whole taking the sugar water off the menu thing didn’t occur to them, eh?

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