Updated: Dec 18, 2018
Listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 a couple of days ago on my day off, whilst getting my kids’ lunch ready is part of my usual Tuesday routine, and usually just forms a vague background noise. This week however, my ears pricked up listening to this shocking headline!
I was intrigued to know more……
Figures show that nearly 26,000 children aged 5 to 9 are being admitted to hospital each year with severe tooth decay requiring extractions. Under 4’s aren’t escaping this growing epidemic either, with nearly 9,000 being admitted each year for single or multiple teeth extractions. Listening intently, I was shocked to hear that it is not uncommon for children to have full clearance’‘. Let me make myself clear – this means EVERY SINGLE TOOTH!
One dentist phoning into the show, reinforced the shocking truth, putting these figures into context. “This is England”, he tells us. “Today, Tomorrow, and every day after that, 500 children are having their teeth taken out in hospital due to tooth decay”.
As a busy working mum of two listening to this, and even though I work in the dental industry, it wasn’t easy listening to such damning statistics, and made me stop and think! (oh and check what I was actually giving the kids for lunch that day! – Home made Shepherds Pie if you’re interested, hopefully not too much sugar in that?!)
Why is this happening?
This seems to be the main culprit. Oh, and lack of understanding.
What can we do?
Educate people a little more.
Without trying to preach all holier than thou, I am far from perfect –my children enjoy ice cream, sweets, and biscuits along with most other kids. However, it seems the extent and regularity of excess sugar in their diets is a major contributing factor to this growing tragic problem.
As the dentist who phoned into the radio show, said, “Teeth are the hardest substance in the body”. So, to get to the stage that children are going into hospital, presenting with acute problems with pain or because a number of teeth in a state of decay are requiring extractions under general anaesthetic, takes some doing!
Some people feel that these kind of cases are bordering on neglect. This is not for me to say. However, I do feel compelled to echo the message coming out of this furore, - cut down on how often children have sugary food and drinks, particularly fizzy drinks. Many people don’t realise the dangers of consuming too much fresh fruit juice –the levels of natural sugars (fructose) in these drinks are comparable and just as destructive as those found in fizzy drinks like cola.
We are all getting better, apparently, at brushing our teeth, but it does no harm to reiterate the basics – brush teeth twice a day, using fluoridated tooth paste. Flouride helps to strengthen the enamel, protecting it from the damage caused by sugar, and foods containing sugar (natural or otherwise!)
As a Business woman working in the dental profession, (but more importantly as a mum of two boys) I feel compelled to also stress the importance of starting your child’s visits to your dentist, early, and certainly by the age of 3. This will help you and your child develop the right oral health habits from an early age. It will also minimise the amount of trauma your child needs to go through by catching any problems early.
It is unacceptable that your child’s first visit to the dentist is because they are in pain and needing multiple teeth extracted. This sets up your child for a lifetime of dental phobia.
It is also a common misconception that baby teeth are not important because“they fall out anyway”. This is not true. They may be small but in fact are very important. They are necessary for your child to be able to chew and even speak properly. Furthermore, they act as “space savers” for your child’s future permanent teeth. These ensure the proper alignment of adult teeth and promote jaw development. Missing baby teeth can then cause the remaining teeth to “shift” and fill the wrong spaces.
Having healthy baby teeth, and keeping them decay-free now, will help your child have a straighter happier smile in the future.
I want my children to have happy smiles, and give them the best start in their oral health that I can possibly can. I hope you do too.
For more information on other oral health tips visit College Street Dental Centre’s website www.smileabout.co.uk.
For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180