In comparing the results of two reports on the dental health of 3 years olds in England, it seems that the war on dental decay in children has gained little traction. In the most recent report, more than 10 per cent (10.7 per cent) of children suffered from dental decay, even though these children had their milk teeth for only one or two years. In a previous study among the same age group, this percentage was slighter at 11.7 percent.
The statistics increase as the age group goes up. Another oral health study revealed that in an age group of 5 year olds, 23.4 per cent experienced dental decay. In many of these cases the advanced state of decay necessitated a number of teeth be extracted – a horrendous experience for anyone to bear, let alone a young child.
These unacceptable levels of tooth decay in children give rise to an important question – just why does tooth decay continue to plague children?
More needs to be done to save children’s teeth
At the root of the problem are the misconceptions parents have about the importance of proper dental care of children’s teeth. This may be because of the temporary nature of milk teeth and lack of knowledge about the importance of taking children to visit a dentist Richmond for a check-up as soon as the child’s first tooth sprouts.
Addressing these misconceptions may go some way to encourage parents of young children to implement a more positive, proactive approach to the oral health of their children.
For example, even though milk teeth are only temporary, they perform important functions that contribute to the proper development of future adult teeth that will replace them.
The enamel of milk teeth is generally weaker and more vulnerable to the presence of sugars and acids in the mouth. This is why a balanced recommended diet for children will make a significant difference. It is not just eating sweets that is the problem, but the frequent consumption of sweet treats together with acidic fizzy beverages that is really at the heart of the issue. An occasional treat is not as much of a problem as consuming excessive amounts of sugar throughout the day on a daily basis.
Without knowledge of where sugar is hidden in foods and beverages, parents will continue to struggle caring for their children’s teeth. The frequency of consuming high levels of sugar is a direct cause of the prevalence of cavities and tooth decay.
Parents also need to be educated on their role in a child’s oral hygiene practice. Parents may find supervising tooth brushing routines stressful and challenging, but it is important for the sake of the child that they keep at it. They can implement activities which are fun like making tooth brushing a game, offer rewards (like stickers or stars on a wall chart) or some other form of motivation. In addition to reducing dietary sugar, a proper oral hygiene practice is crucial to protecting enamel.
Part of what the dentists do is to offer support and much-needed information to parents on how to take care of their child’s oral health and avoid many of the undesirable consequences arising from tooth decay that affect childhood development.