Teeth Extraction In Children Rises 18% In The Last Five Years
Minimising the risk of tooth decay in your child.
A report published the other day (1), notes that there has been an increase of 18% in the number of young children needing to have teeth extracted over the last five years.
With all the additional nutritional and health advice that is now available online, this is perhaps a little surprising. In today’s blog, your nearby Streatham dentist, Dr. Tushar Patel, takes a look at some possible reasons for the rise, and also, how you can minimise the risks for your own children.
Our daily lives
Although it isn’t uncommon to hear people claim that kids have an unhealthy diet because everything is all too easily accessible and nobody makes food from scratch these days, that is to ignore the changes that have happened in society over the past twenty or thirty years. Some of these changes have been revolutionary and have been very beneficial for the majority of people. Few people now have outside toilets and have an almost constant access to hot water, for example. Others changes though, have included the widespread availability of convenience foods and high sugar drinks which have contributed to our increased sugar intake to the point where some are now claiming that sugar is as harmful as smoking.
Our working lives have changed too, and many families now have both parents at work. It isn’t surprising then, that at the end of the day when the parents are tired from working, often long hours, and their children are hyperactive, that we sometimes give in to their pleas for sweets and other sugary things, simply for a quieter life.
All things in moderation
Some people think that dentists are unrealistic when we tell them about how bad sugar is for their children’s teeth. The fact is that we do understand how hard it can be to avoid it, and, instead, we recommend that you allow them to eat a moderate amount of sweets. A small, sweet treat a day will do little harm providing that it is given at the right time, and that your children are also encouraged to keep their teeth clean. All families will vary in their lifestyles, but, as a rough guide, here are some suggestions for their daily food intake which may help.
Avoid high sugar cereals. Many cereals contain very high quantities of sugar and should be avoided. Try to use a low or no sugar one instead, or opt for toast and a low sugar spread. If using a no sugar cereal, add some fruit for sweetness to make it more palatable. Remember though, that even milk contains sugar in the form of lactose, so we would advise that teeth are cleaned after breakfast, rather than before, so that kids go to school with their teeth clean.
If you give your children snacks for playtime, don’t give them sweets or chocolates. Being realistic, children are probably not going to want a healthy snack, but giving them low-salt, low-fat snacks etc will work both to keep them happy and keep sugar intake down.
If you feed your children at home, you can largely control what they eat and ensure that they eat healthily. School dinners too are increasingly designed to be nutritious and healthy. The biggest issue at lunchtime is often about what is in the lunchbox of those having a packed lunch. A rushed parent may be more likely to throw in anything they can lay their hands on and as is the case for many snacks, these are often full of sugar. If your child has a packed lunch, sandwiches, crisps, fruit and even raw carrot sticks are very good and keep their sugar intake to a minimum. You can prepare the packed lunch the night before to ease that morning rush.
If you are going to allow your children to have sweets or sugary desserts, after school or early evening is the time to do it, although it is still best if it can be avoided altogether, ideally. Eating sugar this late in the day though, does mean that the sugar will not be on their teeth too long before they are cleaned and so hasn’t left their teeth exposed to it all day.
Clean and supervise
We have largely discussed diet in today’s Confidental Clinic blog, but regular oral health care is obviously still essential. Parents should take the responsibility of supervising their children when they clean their teeth until such a time that they can be trusted to do so properly alone.
Regular professional care is also essential and should be provided to children from around one year old. In most cases, a six monthly check up should be sufficient, and this combined with a sensible diet and good home care, should hopefully mean that any treatments are minor. If everyone followed this advice, there would certainly be a drop in the number of children having to have their teeth extracted over the next five years and beyond.
If you are a parent and live in Streatham, does your child see a dentist regularly? If not, and you would like to see one of our friendly family dentists, please call the Confidental Clinic today on 020 8674 2052.