Preventing tooth decay in young children
It has recently been revealed that more children are having their teeth removed under general anaesthetic in hospital than ever before. So much so, that tooth decay is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. A 10% increase in the last 4 years means that nearly 43,000 cases were reported last year alone.
Sadly, this worrying number is for the most part, preventable, as it frequently stems from the food and drinks our children consume. There has been a considerable amount of pressure on food companies to support the fight against tooth decay and childhood obesity by cutting sugar levels in their products. As an example, cereal giant Kelloggs last year agreed to cut sugar by 20-40% in their top 3 cereals by the year 2020. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but we must all take responsibility and remain mindful of what we allow our children to eat and drink.
Our teeth are under assault from acid for around 20 minutes after we eat or drink. Not only that, but each time we take a bite or a sip, the entire acid attack process begins again.
How does excessive sugar consumption make this worse?
• The sugar found in our food and drink combines with the bacteria inside our mouths.
• This produces additional acid, which attacks our teeth together with the acid already found in our food and drinks.
• When teeth are subjected to on-going attacks from acid, the enamel weakens. The acid will eventually dissolve the outer layers of enamel.
• Exposure of the inner layers can cause painful sensitivity. This exposure ultimately leads to cavities and tooth decay.
Although it may be unrealistic to brush our teeth more than twice a day, we can all take some easy steps to reduce the impact from an acid attack:
• Something as simple as having a glass of water after we eat or drink can be effective in rinsing away any lingering particles on our teeth and diluting any remaining sugars. Plus, water is so much better for you! Tap water is your best choice as it contains fluoride.
• Milk is low in acid but rich in calcium, phosphorus and casein. This winning combination of minerals and proteins work to strengthen teeth and bones and even aid the repair of damaged tooth enamel.
• Sugary drinks and juice are bad for our teeth, we know this much… but if we allow our children to indulge from time to time it really helps to use a straw. This directs the liquid to the back of the mouth and limit exposure rather than allowing it to bathe the teeth.
• Try to avoid brushing teeth within an hour of drinking sugary drinks and juice. This allows the enamel to recover and reharden before we vigorously brush.
• Use an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth twice daily without fail.
If your children are struggling to find the motivation to brush their teeth, you can attempt to make this more fun for them. Please refer to our previous blog post for some useful tips:
It is never too early to book in your children to visit us here at Strand on the Green. Our team is dedicated to making every child feel at ease about visiting their dentist, which will set them up for life.
Please contact us on 020 8995 0298 for more information.