Andy wrote the specialist section about teeth. He is a partner in a progressive dental treatment centre in Staffordshire and his clinical specialism is oral surgery. Andy also lectures nationally and has a role at the Royal College of Surgeons in Glasgow and Edinburgh as an examiner for dentists sitting post-graduate examinations
He sees first-hand the results of poor or inconsistent dental care over long periods. Whilst the 21st century techniques Andy is able to provide make a huge difference, the role of prevention can never be under-estimated.
In Andy’s own words :
“For many of today’s older generation ‘brushing your teeth’ was a part of the daily routine but probably with no real understanding of how to make a thorough job or what the impact was likely to be if it wasn’t done properly! A visit to the Dentist in the 1960s could be the stuff of nightmares
Today we are far better informed about the dangers of sugary foods (not just for teeth) and the link between eating (anything) and the need to clean twice a day.
Whilst many parents understand the importance of educating their children from a very young age and encouraging them to get into the habit of good dental hygiene, there are others whose capacity to keep on top of things may be inconsistent.
It’s for this reason that childcare practitioners have an important role to play, not only to continue the good habits within the nursery routine, but also to help parents to be persistent at home”
Being a parent isn’t always easy! Early Years Practitioners can help.
Peter is an Ear Nose & Throat surgeon and a large part of his day to day work involves managing children with a whole spectrum of different needs, ; from those brought about by the temporary effects of diseases of the ear nose and throat, such as glue ear, through to life changing diseases such as airway problems requiring tracheostomy tubes and hearing loss requiring cochlear implants. Peter is acutely aware of the significant implications for a child’s development in the Early Years.
In Peter’s own words:
There’s a wide range of people who need to be actively engaged in these children’s care to help make up for any deficits or future problems they may encounter. This team is traditionally considered to be those people who are often hospital or healthcare-facility based (such as paediatricians, nurses, audiologists, speech and language therapists etc).
Like Andy, Peter understands the importance of the roles of others….
‘Key stakeholders in managing these children’s medical problems are the early years practitioners who interact with the children on a daily basis and can provide valuable feedback to families and medical professionals as to the child’s real time performance and social development. In fact, it is not uncommon that we receive referrals from a child’s GP on the basis of reports from school or nursery where the problems are often first highlighted.’
As a parent, I have found it fascinating to receive feedback about my child’s activities and abilities at nursery, and on occasion these things have been overlooked in a busy household!
…. and the importance of good communication between everyone involved.
One of the things it’s easy to lose sight of when working in a specialty like ENT, is that, although to us, the conditions we deal with seem relatively common, this is not always the case. As a result, a lot of people will be very unfamiliar with the effects of such conditions. It is important for effective communication to take place between each profession, in order to educate each other and share our experiences for the benefit of children and their families.
Denise is a specialist speech and language therapist who worked within the NHS for a number of years. She is now in independent practice.
A large part of her role in schools is to work closely with staff to develop their knowledge and skills across a range of universal strategies and interventions which will benefit every child.
At a more specialist level Denise works not only with staff in schools and settings but also directly with children and their families where there are concerns about safe eating and drinking.
In her own words:
When I tell people what I do, I am often asked if I work on changing accents. I am not a linguistic and living in the West Midlands, I usually laugh and say I could teach people how to speak ‘Black Country’ but nothing more than that!!!
My role as a Speech and Language Therapist involves so much more. I am a trainer, advisor, educator, assessor, advocate, mentor, demonstrator, supporter, problem solver, organiser, as well as also liaising and working in partnership with a huge range of professionals to ensure children get the right support to meet their individual needs.
Most of us take a great deal of pleasure from eating and drinking, it helps to structure our day and provide opportunities for social interactions.
We usually don’t think about the process of swallowing until something goes wrong and parents do worry about these things, placing enormous pressure on families.
Working closely alongside EY practitioners ensures families can be reassured or signposted to other sources of help by being well-informed themselves.
It’s important to think about eating and drinking as more than just food and drink
Developing eating and drinking skills is complex and requires good postural control, fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, in addition to the oral motor skills related to movements of the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw. All these skills play a key role in developing mature eating and drinking and it is important to remember that the muscles used in eating and drinking are the same muscles used in facial expression and speech, so developing these skills during feeding will also have a positive impact on speech and language development.
This resource will form an important link in the information-sharing process.
Together with the right support and advice, everyone can make a difference.