Can you imagine how unhealthy the teeth of youngsters were 100 years ago? The first British Dental Association (BDA) survey in the early 1900s reported that in one school in the South of England, out of 1200 children, over half of them had already had extractions. Another report into a British school was not much better. When asked how often the boys used a tooth brush the replies were; â€œOn Sundays,â€ â€œTwice a week,â€ â€œOccasionally,â€ and â€œWhen I go out for tea.â€
Today, the young are taking better care of their teeth. An NHS survey in 2008 reported that 77 percent of 12-year olds were brushing their teeth twice daily. The amount of decay appears to have decreased substantially over the course of a century. Certainly, our young patients usually have healthy teeth and gums and few fillings. This makes it easy to provide braces to give them a wonderful smile.
But, according to the ‘Make a meal of it’ campaign launched by the BDA, an unacceptable number of children still suffer from tooth decay. And the BDA says there may be a hidden epidemic among young people and this is being caused by a new dental problem, tooth erosion. You can read my other blog about erosion.
We are more knowledgeable nowadays about dental issues, especially about the benefits of fluoride and the importance of good hygiene. But despite all the improvements, it is still worth limiting children’s exposure to sweet foods and drinks.
As Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, says: Children aren’t born with a sweet tooth. It is acquired over time due to their dietary habits.
Apparently, there are good treats, there are not-so-good treats and then there are the treats that are just plain disastrous to the overall health of young teeth. A packet of chocolate buttons and a glass of milk is a far better snack between meals than a can of tooth-eroding fizzy or acid-wearing fruit juice.
For advice about oral health, take advantage of the free British Dental Health Foundation helpline staffed by fully trained oral health professionals to give free advice. 0845 063 1188. And to find out more about the BDA’s campaign: www.bda.org/dentists/policy-campaigns/campaigns/makeameal.aspx