Dentists in UK are alarmed as more and more kids have decaying teeth. Unfortunately, the number one enemy of oral health in children seems to be difficult to fight - sugar.
The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) published a paper on July 12 calling out to the government to tackle poor rates of oral health across the UK, since the number of children being admitted to hospitals to get their teeth extracted is widely increasing.
"It is unacceptable that one-third of five-year-olds suffer from tooth decay in England," said Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean, Faculty of Dental Surgery at RCS. First off, general anesthetic in a hospital setting is discouraged in children at young ages. Hunt stresses that good oral health should be a priority amongst children so that they do not have to reach the point of hospitalization for tooth extraction and to further prevent other oral problems from arising in their adulthood.
Hunt points out that one major reason why British children have rotten teeth is because of too much sugary, fizzy drinks and sweets. Among other things, Hunt says that packages of these drinks and sweets that children love should also have warning pictures of dental decay, similar to those in cigarette packs. This is to warn children and more importantly parents of the dangers.
The RCS aims to see a government strategy clearly set in place to make more parents and their children, as well as dentists, be more aware of the importance of simple steps to ensure good oral health. These simple steps include a reduced sugar intake and regular visits to the dentists. The RCS says that oral health standards can be bettered nationally.
In their paper, experts at the RCS proposed [pdf] actions the government needs to take to ensure better oral health amongst children. To prevent more reported tooth decays and hospitalization due to dental problems, the RCS emphasized the importance of educating children on oral health. It encouraged dentists and healthcare providers to provide more preventive advice.
Water fluoridation schemes and an increased awareness of the effects of sugar on oral health were also highlighted along with discussions of the increasing rates of oral cancer.
The paper also noted the importance of the availability of fair access to quality NHS dental care all throughout the country. In socially deprived areas, the RCS encouraged oral health programs to be deployed and highlighted the significance of HPV vaccine for boys to reduce rates of oral cancer.
Every year, almost 26,000 general anesthetics are given to children from ages five to nine in the UK to get their teeth pulled out. Some hospitals are even extending during evenings and over the weekend because of the increased number of children with rotten teeth. Some children wait for about a year to undergo tooth extraction because there is such a backlog.
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