There have been many damning reports recently in the press about the state of our children’s dental health. Some of these shocking reports from the Royal College of surgeons and the British Dental Association warned that thousands of children are being admitted to hospital to have teeth removed because of advanced decay, all of this costing the NHS millions.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre’s research shows these numbers have been increasing consistently for the past four successive years and that the rate of painful tooth extraction in some of the nation’s most deprived children is five times that of the children in better off areas.
Children with this level of dental decay find it difficult to sleep, eat and speak, not to mention problems socialising with other children. This will inevitably affect their development as well as education.
The research goes on to show that many children have their decayed teeth extracted under general anaesthetic, with 8362 children being admitted in London for the procedure.
The statistics are scary, yet 90% of this dental decay is actually preventable with a balanced diet and regular dental checkups with the dentist.
As adults in our society we make our own choices about whether we go to the dentist not, the problem is a five-year-old doesn’t have this choice, they are reliant upon their parent or carer to make the right choice for them and ensure their dental health remains good.
Many parents believe that children have two sets of teeth and therefore can afford to have the first set go rotten. The problem with this theory is that as the dental decay takes hold the bacteria have an adverse effect on the rest of the body also, thereby impacting on the child’s overall health.
If a child is first set (deciduous) of teeth are left to decay then this oral hygiene routine can become a habit which then continues on to win the second (permanent) set of teeth come through. This can then spell disaster for the overall dental health of the child as they mature and grow into adulthood.
So what can we do?
The simple answer is twofold:
- Maintain a balanced and healthy diet
- Have regular visits to the dentist to ensure your child’s oral health care routine is efficient.
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is primarily focused around reducing the amount of sugar. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and as they feed they secrete an acid which attacks the hard outer surface of your tooth. If this acid attack is left to continue then the decay becomes worse and worse until ultimately your child is left in pain and the tooth has to be removed. Reducing the amount of sugar in your child’s diet is one of the primary ways of preventing this happening, along with maintaining an adequate daily dental healthcare routine.
Regular visits to the dentist will also ensure that your daily dental health care routine is adequate. Here’s our advice for children.
Advice for looking after your children’s dental health
- Take your child to the dentist from an early age this helps them get used to sitting in the chair, going up and down and generally being around a healthcare professional.
- Start brushing your child’s teeth at soon as they appear, even as a baby. This gives your child time to get used to the feel of a toothbrush in their mouth as young as possible.
- Use a child’s toothpaste. A children’s toothpaste has less fluoride than an adult toothpaste, fluoride is generally good when kept to the correct dose however it can in excess cause problems for children.
- Use a pea sized amount of toothpaste when you clean your children’s teeth twice per day for 2 min.
- Supervise your child’s brushing up until around the age of 7.
Many dental practices offer special children’s rates and care/maintenance plans to help look after your children’s teeth. Our dental practice in Derby offers children’s dentistry with examinations starting from £7.50 to help you keep your child’s teeth and overall health as good as possible for life.
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