No Excuse For Tooth Decay In Children

Recent figures show a huge number of hospital admissions for tooth extraction.

A report recently stated that, since 2011, 128,000 children have had to have teeth removed due to tooth decay (1). Despite the wealth of information now available, it seems as though the message is simply not getting home.

Whilst, as parents, we want the best for our children, whether that be education or other achievements, when it comes to oral health care we seem to be falling behind. Even though, as any parent will tell you, there is little more distressing than seeing your child in pain.

So, what can we do to improve?

The basics

Avoiding tooth decay in children should not be difficult. Whilst we may not 100% eliminate the problem, and occasionally, minor fillings might be needed; the extent of the problem reported can easily be avoided by following these few simple guidelines.

1.    Supervise Brushing – Don’t fully hand the responsibility of brushing their teeth to the child. Once they are capable of brushing themselves, parents should supervise the brushing and ensure that they brush for the full two minutes. You should also ensure that a fluoride toothpaste is used as this helps to protect the enamel on the teeth.

2.    Avoid excess sugars – Children love sugar. There is no getting away from this, and, given the amount of energy they seem to have, a small amount should do no harm. The problem arises when children eats too much sugar, whether in the form of sweets or high sugar foods. These should be limited to treats and not form an everyday part of their diet.

3.    Avoid fruit juice – Although this could be classed in number 2 above, it deserves a category of its own. It is now largely agreed that this is a major contributor to the rise of tooth decay in children. Many parents give their children fruit juice in the belief that it is completely healthy, and, whilst it does contain many vitamins, even pure fruit juice is high in (natural) sugar. Both natural and refined sugar are equally damaging to young teeth. Water or very dilute juice is better for your children, with fruit juices being allowed in moderation, and preferably drunk through a straw to reduce contact with the teeth.

4.    See the dentist – At the Confidental Clinic, we encourage our adult patients to bring their children in regularly to see us so that we can monitor their oral health. We recommend that this starts at around one year of age. Whilst problems at this stage are unlikely, it helps to familiarise them with the dental environment, and it is thought that this helps to prevent developing dental fears in later life.

These basic pieces of advice, if followed, should significantly help your child to avoid having intrusive procedures and to have a healthy set of teeth and gums into their adult years.

If you would like to see a children’s dentist in Clapham, why not give us a call on 020 7801 9060.

1.    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/27/england-hospital-treatment-children-severe-tooth-decay