British children are big-time consumers of sucrose-laden treats, from sweets to highly sweetened carbonated drinks. It’s little wonder that they become pint-size sugar junkies as they are assaulted by advertising for the products at every turn.
It is also no surprise that they have some of the highest rates of dental decay in Europe. We all know that dental cavities are nothing to smile about in their impact on quality of life, whether it is the pain and embarrassment that they cause, or damage to general and oral health.
In a ground-breaking move to address what they term a crisis, the British Medical Association (BMA) is urging cigarette-style health warnings on high-sugar food products, amid reports that a staggering 30,000 children went to hospital in the past two years for teeth extractions. The BMA also called for the government to distribute free toothbrushes to all under-fives.
The Irish Dental Association is also trying to address the dire situation in its nation by calling for the government to pay for children’s first dental check-up. Routine free screenings for kids aged 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 were cut in the wake of the 2008 economic crash; annually, 10,000 Irish children now undergo tooth extractions under general anaesthetic.
Of course, it’s not simply a matter of blaming food manufacturers or government austerity measures. Parents and other care-givers need to do their part in teaching children from an early age about proper oral hygiene and smart food choices. While that does not mean banning chocolate bars and ice-cream altogether, it would be better to keep them as occasional special treats on the weekend to be enjoyed as a family – with a quick floss and brushing of their teeth to follow.
Be sure to gently inform them about the importance of regular dental check-ups, and that the dental practice is a place to be enjoyed, not feared, because the dentist is helping them achieve good-looking teeth. By instilling good habits early in life, the chances are that they will keep their natural teeth into adulthood.
At EndoCare we are part of your team reducing suffering and trying to save teeth.
 The Journal (Feb. 27, 2017). “The cost of austerity: Irish children as young as six are getting teeth extracted under general anesthetic”. http://www.thejournal.ie/children-dentist-check-ups-cutbacks-operations-3249274-Feb2017/