Oral Health

The Oral Health topic aims to improve children’s oral health by researching and embedding evidence-based oral health promotion across early years services.

Oral Health projects include: 

BRIGHT- Brushing Reminder 4 Good Oral Health

Brushing Reminder 4 Good oral Health (BRIGHT) is a trial that aims to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness of a short classroom based session (CBS) embedded in the curriculum and series of SMS, compared to no education and no SMS, on dental caries.  The findings of this trial will inform national policy for oral health in secondary schools.

For more information visit:


If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Zoe Marshman - z.marshman@sheffield.ac.uk 

BRUSH - Optimising toothbrusing programmes in nurseries and schools

A quarter of five-year-old children in England have tooth decay. This figure can rise up to 50% in deprived areas of the country.  The burden of decay is significant. Decay causes pain and suffering, as well as affecting what children eat, their speech, quality of life, self-esteem and social confidence. In addition, decay has a wider societal impact on school readiness and attendance. In England, treatment of decay is the most common reason why young children (over 33,000 per annum) are admitted to hospital, costing the NHS over £30 million every year. 

Tooth decay is preventable. One key behaviour for preventing tooth decay is toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste. For a large number of reasons, toothbrushing behaviours at home are variable. To supplement behaviours at home, the government has recommended nursery and school-based (Foundation and Year 1) toothbrushing programmes. These supervised toothbrushing programmes are effective in reducing tooth decay, especially in children at greatest risk and are cost effective. However, uptake and maintenance of these programmes is fragmented with funding coming from a variety of sources and there is considerable variation how they are implemented. 

This project will work with a range of stakeholders, to learn how best to implement these programmes and how to increase their uptake and success in the longer term. Research methods include a stocktake of current practice, qualitative methods, implementation science, improvement science and co-design approaches. The project will lead to the production of an implementation toolkit to optimise implementation of supervised toothbrushing programmes across England.

For more information visit:


If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Kara Gray-Burrows - k.gray-burrows@leeds.ac.uk 


The HABIT (Health visitors delivering Advice in Britain on Infant Toothbrushing) intervention was developed with close involvement of Health Visiting teams and parents. It supports health visiting teams to have effective oral health conversations with families of young children as part of the universal Healthy Child Programme delivered at the 9-12 month home visit. 

Following further funding, the HABIT intervention is being delivered as one of the core modules within the MECSH (Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-visiting) programme for families needing additional support. Both HABIT and MECSH are funded by Better Start Bradford with funding from the National Lottery Community fund. MECSH is an intervention developed in Australia and is being piloted and delivered by the Health Visiting teams in the Better Start area of Bradford. MECSH has a strong evidence base. It is preventive focused and includes 25 contacts/visits during the first two years of life. Oral health is a priority topic for local children and the HABIT oral health topics have been adapted into small discrete preventive discussions and included in eight of the MECSH visits. The delivery of the HABIT module through the MECSH is being evaluated and adapted as necessary with the aim of widespread uptake.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Annalea Staples - a.staples@leeds.ac.uk or Peter Day - p.f.day@leeds.ac.uk

ToothPASTE - Empowering families of young children with autism to establish good oral health habits

Tooth decay in children is a major issue which is preventable.  For children with autism, especially those with little or no verbal communication, tooth decay can lead to self-harm, impaired sleep and disrupted routines.  For families of children with autism, establishing good habits such as twice daily tooth brushing and limiting sugary foods can be complex, owing to extra challenges, such as communication, altered sensitivity and rigid behaviour patterns.   This project will work with families of young children with autism and the professionals who care for them to explore the barriers and facilitators to good oral health habits and design a support package. This package will help families to be confident in looking after their childs teeth by identifying what support they need, who could provide it and the best times to provide support.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Amrit Chauhan - a.bhatti@leeds.ac.uk or Peter Day - p.f.day@leeds.ac.uk  

CHOICE - Changing Habits to Prevent Child Caries

Unfortunately, child tooth decay is a major problem in the UK and many children end up in hospital to have teeth removed due to severe decay. We know the advice and support for parents and carers of these children on how to improve dental health is lacking.  Working with dentists and dental nurses, this study aims to provide families with the knowledge and skills to develop healthy tooth brushing habits and an understanding of how healthy eating can prevent child tooth decay. 

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Peter Day - p.f.day@leeds.ac.uk  


The CALM trial is a research project investigating ways to reduce children’s fear of the dentist. CALM is being carried out by researchers (from universities in Sheffield, Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle, London & York) with help from children, parents, dental professionals and patient representatives. Around 600 children with dental anxiety with a parent/carer will be recruited from 30 dental practices across England and Wales.

For more information visit: 


If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Zoe Marshman - z.marshman@sheffield.ac.uk 

PhD: PLATOON - Premature loss of baby teeth and its impact on orthodontic need

The PLATOON project is investigating the impact of premature extraction of primary teeth (PEPT) on orthodontic treatment need in a cohort of children participating in the Born in Bradford (BiB) cohort study.  This study is the first to provide the foundations for future investigations, allowing the long-term impact of PEPT to be studied.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Eman Alnuaimi - dneha@leeds.ac.uk 

PhD: Oral Health and Nurseries

Preventing tooth decay and reducing oral health inequalities is the number one research priority. In parts of Yorkshire, 40% of five year olds have tooth decay. Tooth decay is a disease of deprivation and impacts children, their families and society. 

Tooth decay is preventable. There is strong evidence to support the lifelong benefits of adopting preventive home-based oral health behaviours from early childhood. However, many families struggle to implement these behaviours. Consequently, Public Health England advocate a multifaceted approach. 

“Lets Talk about Teeth” (LTAT) has been developed by a small commercial company (http://www.soap.media) with close collaboration with the University of Leeds and Public Health England. SOAP Media have a strong track record of training the early-years’ workforce; pioneering a training method called “edutainment”, which is delivered as an online resource. This PhD will evaluate this complex intervention. 

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Rama Midani - dnrm@leeds.ac.uk 

PhD: No need(le) to worry

No need(le) to worry is seeking to address needle fear in childhood and adolescence which affects around 50% of children and adolescents worldwide, and can have wide reaching impacts. The development of a self-help resource aims to help support these children, and allow them to address their fears and/or develop coping skills to enable them to accept needles.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Fiona Noble - f.noble@sheffield.ac.uk 

For more information about the topic reach out to: 

Peter Day, Topic lead - p.f.day@leeds.ac.uk