It seems high sugar content may not be the only contributor to dental caries among children in England. According to the British Dental Health Foundation, parents need to place more importance on their children’s dental health. The situation has gotten so bad that in some cases children have had emergency dental surgery for the removal of all 20 baby teeth!
What has also concerned the foundation is that the discovery that tooth decay has continually increased in British children. In 2010, 22,574 children ages 5 through 9 were admitted for surgery to remove rotting teeth. But in 2013, hospitals actually saw an increase in emergency room visits to 25, 812.
The BBC reported that Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Foundation has labeled it “a case of child neglect.” Dr. Carter places partial blame on sugary drinks, but adds that parents are failing to teach a proper oral hygiene regimen in their children. As a result many parents end up taking their kids to their very first dental appointment when they’re in pain with extremely advanced dental decay.
Can you imagine your first visit to the dentist is one where you need to be put to sleep for multiple teeth extractions?
The Focus should be on Dental Caries too, not just Obesity
In England as in the United States, sugar and processed foods have been identified as the leading factor in rising obesity levels among children. But very little has been reported about sugar and its link to the increase in dental caries, both in the U.S. and in England. (I strongly recommend the documentary movie, Fed Up, for more information about the terrible impact of processed foods and sugar has had in the western world!)
About a year ago we blogged about the new recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce the intake of sugar to less than 10 percent of daily caloric intake. But a British agency, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, is calling for Britons to halve that percentage further to 5 percent! If you’re wondering what 5 percent actually looks like with regard to a soft drink, consider that only half of a 330 milliliter can of Coke is about equal to the newly recommended daily limit!
Pediatric dentists and other scientists are suggesting to parents start giving children water early as possible in their development. The message is to avoid sugary drinks, sports drinks, smoothies and fruit juices to protect their teeth and combat obesity. In the US, 40 million children under the age of 5 have cavities. But parents, along with dedicated dental professionals, can protect children from the need for fillings and uncomfortable tooth extractions.
Practicing great dental hygiene includes bringing your child in for a dental checkup by age 1-3. We see many preschoolers and have taken the initiative to come up with a list of tips and recommendations.
- Find a family dentist. At Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC , we will keep you informed of advancements and improvements in pediatric dental care. With nearly four decades in the dental profession, my Southfield team can keep your entire family free of dental caries for life. With regular visits and a thorough dental and medical review process, we can eliminate or at least restrict cavities and gum issues to the early stage.
- Insuring a lifetime of good dental health starts early, so now it is recommended that babies see a dentist by age of 1. We’ll provide a brief examination and dental assessment, and take the time to discuss your child’s oral health with you. Just like adults, infants should also have a scheduled visit with their dentist every six months.
- Use child teething rings, chilled (not frozen!) teething toys, even popsicles or a wet soft terry washcloth. Avoid giving any type of over-the-counter anesthetic since the toxicity may be too high for babies.
- Clean your baby’s mouth. At the sign of baby’s first tooth, you can clean their mouths with a soft terry cloth. Just gently wipe along their mouths and gums after each meal or at least twice a day. This eventually sets the stage for brushing and flossing later on. As more teeth erupt you can gradually introduce a soft-bristled brush for cleaning.
- Timing of snacks. Create a snack schedule that helps with reducing dental and oral health issues. For example, a nighttime bottle should be avoided if possible. Snacks before bed should also be avoided. Also introduce veggies and fruit as snacks between meals instead of the usual processed sugary treat. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry also recommends that moms avoid breastfeeding more than 7 times a day after 12months of age.
- Stop the spread of oral bacteria. Thoroughly wash teething rings and utensils before sharing them with your child. A recent study at the University of Illinois investigated the oral health of babies, ages 12 to 24 mouths, and found that infants had the exact oral microbiology as that of their mothers. Perhaps hinting that harmful oral bacteria can be spread from mother to child quite easily.
As parents we try to give our children the best this life has to offer. It’s our hope that you’ll include us, the team of Dr. Mark Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC, in your efforts to provide the best dental care for your family. If you have any questions about dental care and decay prevention for children, just give us a call at 248-356-8790. You’re never too old, too young or too late to have a smile you’re proud of!
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790