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‘Unacceptable’ rise in juvenile tooth extractions 08-03-2016

The press has recently reported on the worrying trend in tooth decay rates among children in England. Over the last four years, there has been a steady increase in the number of children requiring a tooth extraction due to tooth decay each year. In 2014-2015, a total of 33,781 cases were recorded, up from 32,741 in the previous year. In fact, over the last four years, there has been an increase of nearly 10% in the number of cases of children requiring extractions.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre collated the data, which considered children aged 10 and under. The data showed more boys than girls required treatment as inpatients in the 2014-2015 year. It also flagged that in the five years and under age group, 14,000 cases were recorded last year. In total, since 2011 there have been 128,558 instances of children needing one of more teeth removed.

Professor Nigel Hunt of the Royal College of Surgeons expressed that this increase was ‘unacceptable’ and stated that ‘not only is tooth decay distressing to children and parents, it has serious social and financial implications.’ He goes on to explain that 90% of tooth decay is preventable, which means that much of the distress caused is entirely avoidable. Professor Hunt advised that raising awareness of the impact of sugar on tooth decay, and improving the ability of children to access dental services would be steps in the right direction.

So what is tooth decay? Tooth decay is caused when plaque builds up on our teeth and turns into tartar over time. The plaque and tartar produce acids which attack the enamel on our teeth, leading this to breakdown. When the enamel breaks down, cavities form on our teeth, which cause fillings to be needed. Over time (and without treatment), this can worsen and lead teeth to further deteriorate: eventually extractions will be needed.

To avoid tooth decay it is important to brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. It’s a good idea to supervise your child and ensure that they learn to do this properly, and continue to brush thoroughly. Interdental brushes or dental floss should be used to reach those difficult areas in between the teeth. These areas are particularly susceptible to plaque build-up. It’s also a good idea to really keep an eye on the sugar content of drinks as well as foods that you give your child. Some drinks are laden with added sugars, and these can sit on your child’s teeth causing plaque to start developing.

We’re happy to work with you and give advice and information on how to support your child to develop good oral health routines. Give us a call today and book an appointment to have a chat to one of our dental team who will be happy to help you plan how to instil good habits in your child at an early age.

For more information on the recent survey results, and about oral health, please visit the recent BBC article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35672775

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