New data published by Public Health England has confirmed that over 90% of extraction procedures carried out in hospitals in England are required for extensive decay. Nine out of ten children aged 0-5 need treatment in hospital as a result of a dental disease, which is almost always preventable.
Research suggests that there has been an overall improvement in children’s dental health in the last year, but standards are falling in younger children under the age of 5. Dental problems are also still the most common reason for hospital admission among children aged between 6 and 10 years old.
Dental decay can cause severe pain and low self-esteem, and studies show that the need for extractions under general anaesthetic contributes to around 60,000 missed school days per year.
One of the main causes of decay is excessive sugar consumption. There has been a slight decline in consumption in the last year, but data shows that a large proportion of kids are still consuming far more than the recommended daily intake. The average child is taking in the equivalent of 8 more cubes than the recommended quantity.
Public Health England’s Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents and children to be more aware of sugar content, and to make healthy swaps, which will reduce the average daily intake of the entire family. Cereals, flavoured yoghurts, fizzy drinks and juices, dried fruit, and cereal bars are all products that often contain high levels of sugar. Health experts are encouraging parents to read food labels and to stick to whole grain cereals and porridge, natural yoghurt and water and milk. The Change4Life website also has information about healthy snacking, after it was revealed that many children consume the recommended daily intake of sugar through snacking alone.
In addition to making healthy food swaps, Public Health England is also eager to promote regular routine dental checks from the age of 12 months, and twice-daily brushing.