Over the past few weeks, you may have read stories in the press about warnings from the Royal College of Surgeons about hospitals in England reaching ‘crisis point’ managing the number of children being admitted for tooth removal under general anaesthetic.
In a report entitled The State of Children’s Oral Health in England report by the Royal College of Surgeons (published in January 2015), figures show that nearly 26,000 children, aged five to nine, were admitted to hospital in England in 2013-14 with tooth decay, marking a 14% increase from 2011. Tooth decay is the most common reason for this age group to be admitted to hospital.
The report highlighted some worrying trends that, as a family-friendly dentist in Grantham, we are passionate about improving.
A growing number of parents are failing to register their children with a dentist, perhaps not realising that treatment is free for children through the NHS or not understanding the importance of early dental care. In turn, children are eating and drinking larger quantities of sugary foods and drinks than ever before, often snacking throughout the day or drinking fizzy drinks from baby bottles, and exposing their teeth to an ongoing attack from plaque acids. Couple this with the fact that a growing number of children are not brushing their teeth properly and it would appear that the health of children’s teeth has hit crisis point.
The 2013 Child Dental Health Survey (which is conducted once every ten years in the UK) found that nearly one third (31%) of five-year-olds and almost half (46%) of eight-year-olds have obvious signs of decay in their milk teeth. It is estimated that tooth extractions for children under the age of 18 in 2012-13 cost the NHS more than £30 million.
The harsh reality is that 90% of children’s dental health problems are preventable.
Following the latest report from the Royal College of Surgeons, there is growing pressure for public health bodies to come together to address this problem. Steps such as better food labelling, better oral health education for parents, and campaigns focused on areas of social deprivation where people are less likely to visit the dentist have all been suggested.
The Royal College of Surgeons has also recommended that parents continue to supervise or even brush their children’s teeth until the age of 14 in an effort to prevent tooth decay.
As a dentist in Grantham that offers free NHS dental treatment to children aged under 18, we are committed to working with families to make good dental care a routine part of everyday life.
If you bring your children in to us for routine check-ups and hygienist visits, we can identify potential problems before they have a chance to take hold. If your child could be brushing their teeth more effectively, we can show them and you how. We can also help you navigate the minefield of information out there about tooth-unkind foods and drinks.
We are happy to give you hints and tips about keeping your children’s teeth healthy. Steps such as eating sweets occasionally at the end of a meal instead of snacking during the day can help reduce the frequency and volume of plaque acid attacks on their teeth. We can also suggest healthy food swaps, and alternatives to fizzy drinks and fruit juices.
Perhaps most importantly, we provide a friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental atmosphere. Even if your children haven’t visited the dentist before, it’s never too late to bring them along for an appointment. Our aim is to make visiting the dentist as calm and stress-free as possible, so we can teach kids and their families all about preventing gum disease and tooth decay long before they ever need antibiotics or painful extractions.
If you are concerned about your child’s dental health or you’re looking for a dentist in Grantham that will welcome your family, simply give us a call on 01476 594480.