Parents are increasing the likelihood that their children will need emergency dental treatment by failing to supervise them when they brush their teeth, a new survey has found.
Research conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation and Oral B found that more than 20 per cent of under-fives are left to brush their teeth on their own, and 25 per cent of parents apparently believe that under-fives do not need to brush their teeth twice a day.
In addition, a worrying 67 per cent of parents told researchers that the recommendation is to brush teeth for one minute, when the optimum period is two minutes.
Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said that the findings were "very worrying" and may explain why around half of under-fives in the UK currently have tooth decay.
"Teaching children good dental habits is vital," he insisted.
"Not only has research shown that people who learn good habits as children are far more likely to carry them into adulthood, but taking bad habits into adulthood will cause gum disease and this has been linked to all manner of serious conditions including diabetes, strokes, heart disease and low birth-weight babies," Dr Carter revealed.
The survey also suggests that parents' failure to protect their children's dental health is reflected in their own oral habits.
Nearly a third of adults suffer from bleeding gums and many of those who experience this problem simply choose to ignore it.