In response to a new report that more children in England are being admitted to hospital because of tooth decay than for any other reason, oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation believes neglect is behind the recent statistics.
Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre in the UK show more than 25,000 children aged five to nine were admitted for tooth decay, an increase of more than 3,000 since 2010.
Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: “It is incredibly worrying to see that almost 26,000 five to nine year-olds treated in hospital for tooth decay. However, these figures are an improvement on 30 years ago when many extractions were performed under anaesthetic in practice.
“It is unacceptable that a child’s first visit to the dentist be made at a time when they are in pain and have multiple teeth needing extraction. This sets the child up for a potential lifetime of poor dental health and dental phobia. It is the view of the British Dental Health Foundation that this is parental neglect in three areas, all of which are basic oral hygiene principles.
“It is neglecting supervised brushing twice daily with the use of a fluoride toothpaste. It is the failure to manage a child’s diet due to constant snacking on sugary foods and snacks, which in turn is failure to look after their general health, and it is neglecting their responsibility to take them to the dentist from age 2 and a half when their teeth are coming through. The key message is cutting down on how often children have sugary foods and drinks.
“The increase in consumption of sugary foods and drinks is one of the key reasons for dental decay. Proposals such as the introduction of a duty on sugary drinks and decreasing the levels of sugar in foods have both been put forward in the last 12 months. From an oral health point of view it is how often sugary foods and drinks are consumed, which heightens the risk of tooth decay. If parents remember this message, there will be an inevitable reduction in consumption and benefits for both general and dental health.”
“Tooth decay is entirely preventable through nothing more than a few very basic oral health messages. The British Dental Health Foundation encourages everybody to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks and visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.”