December 12th, 2018
Ministers have ruled against introducing a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children due to a lack of scientific evidence.
Campaigners had called for the drinks, which usually contain a lot of sugar and caffeine, to be prohibited for children, but MPs in the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have concluded that there isn’t enough “quantitative evidence” to push a statutory ban through at the moment.
Although there will not be a universal ban on selling energy drinks to children, the committee welcomed individual measures and policies adopted by shops, retail chains and schools. In recent months, a number of high-profile stores announced that they would introduce restrictions on the sale of energy drinks, with some bringing in a ban for under 16’s. Qualitative data analysis suggests that these bans may help to reduce consumption, but could also prove beneficial as they reinforce the link between energy drinks and negative effects on health.
The government launched the consultation into a ban on energy drinks for children in the summer, with the Prime Minister supporting the measure as a means of tackling childhood obesity. Statistics show that children in the UK consume more energy drinks than their counterparts in other countries in Europe.
Norman Lamb, chair of the committee, said that the panel had listened to a diverse range of concerns, from hyperactivity and a lack of focus and concentration in the classroom to obesity and dental disease, but there was currently not enough scientific evidence to differentiate the consumption of energy drinks from other drinks, including coffee, tea and fizzy pop.
December 6th, 2018
New figures for attendance rates have sparked debate among patients, professionals and dental organisations, but do you know how often you should see your dentist? Recent figures suggest that more than 55% of adults in London haven’t seen a dentist in the last two years, while more than 40 percent of children in England didn’t see a dentist last year.
In some cases, low attendance may be linked to poor access to services, but the vast majority of people should be able to get an appointment with a local dentist without a significant waiting period. In light of this, it’s worth talking about how often you need to see a dentist. Recently, dentists, including England’s chief dental officer, have spoken about reducing the frequency of dental visits, but there may be an element of confusion related to this advice.
The message dentists are eager to put across is the importance of seeing a dentist on a basis that is suitable for the individual patient. If you have strong, healthy teeth and a very low risk of decay and gum disease, you may only be advised to see your dentist once every year. If, however, you have existing dental issues or a high risk of developing conditions like gum disease, it is likely that you’ll be encouraged to attend appointments at least once every 6 months. Dentists also want to urge patients to be mouth aware and to seek advice if they notice any changes or any potentially dangerous symptoms, such as bleeding and swollen gums, slow-healing mouth ulcers, abnormal inflammation, lumps or tooth pain. In this case, patients are advised to call and make an appointment as quickly as possible, rather than waiting until their next scheduled check-up.
For children, dentists advise 6-monthly appointments. Routine checks are an effective means of preventing decay and infection, but they also flag up early signs of cavities and enable children to get used to going to the dentist.
August 29th, 2018
A new survey suggests that children consume up to five times more sugar during the school holidays.
A survey conducted in the South West revealed that children eat up to five times more sugary foods during the holidays. In response to poll findings, dentists are keen to encourage parents to use time off to book dental appointments, but, unfortunately, it looks as though experts face a battle. The survey revealed that parents rated activities including shopping for new school shoes, play dates with friends and going on holiday as more important than taking their child to the dentist.
Although 4 out of 5 parents involved in the survey admitted to being concerned about their child’s sugar intake, most admitted that they adopt a much more relaxed approach to diet during the holidays, with fizzy drinks and ice creams named as the most common treats. Some also said that they are less strict about oral care when their kids are not at school, with 3 in 5 admitting that their child often forgets to brush their teeth and 40% saying they don’t supervise teeth cleaning.
Tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions among children in England, despite the fact that it is almost always preventable. Experts have blamed sugar consumption and poor oral hygiene habits for a rise in extractions.
Experts are encouraging parents to keep an eye on their children’s’ diets, but also to take advantage of NHS dental services, which are available free of charge. Children should be going to the dentist every 6 months from an early age, but research suggests that only 58% of 5-9 years old saw a dentist in 2016/2017. Routine checks are painless, they reduce the risk of decay, and they also provide parents with access to information about preventative measures such as fluoride varnish and advice about diet and dental hygiene.
January 3rd, 2018
Public Health England has launched a new campaign to discourage unhealthy snacking. As the New Year gets into full swing, the body is hoping to encourage those looking to adopt healthier habits to ditch sugary snacks. Although the scheme is designed to target children, adults can benefit from reducing the amount of calories consumed through snacks too.
Research suggests that the average child gets half their daily sugar intake through snacks and drinks and campaigners are hoping to put an end to this trend. Public Health England is encouraging parents and children to stick to a maximum of two snacks per day, limit snacks to foods that contain no more than 100 calories and swap sugary drinks for sugar-free versions. According to studies, children are having at least three sugary snacks or drinks per day, with many consuming more than three times the recommended sugar intake on a daily basis.
According to Public Health England, children are consuming up to 400 biscuits, 120 cakes, 70 chocolate bars and ice creams and 100 bags of sweets per year. On top of this, children are also consuming 150 bottles of juice or cans of fizzy drinks.
Excessive sugar intake is fuelling increasing childhood obesity rates and dental health issues, and campaigners are eager to encourage healthier eating habits in a bid to reduce the number of children affected by these preventable illnesses. Dental decay is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children and in England, a third of children in year 6 are either overweight or obese.
November 15th, 2017
A new study has revealed that half of children tell white lies about cleaning their teeth.
Research conducted by a group of dentists who have developed the Brushlink brushing tracker, suggested that up to half of kids tell fibs about brushing their teeth. One in five children try and trick their parents into thinking that they’ve cleaned their teeth by using ploys like wetting the brush head and an even larger proportion either exaggerate the amount of time they have brushed for or say they have cleaned their teeth when they haven’t bothered to.
Brushlink is the first smartphone brushing tracker that is compatible with any toothbrush. The app provides a brushing mark and it also analyses technique and frequency. If a patient consents, the information obtained by the device can be shared with dentists. Dr Dev Patel, one of the dentists behind Brushlink, said that it’s clear from research that many children aren’t doing a brilliant job with it comes to brushing their teeth and Brushlink is an aid that can benefit both kids and parents.
Information about brushing habits was obtained in a study involving 2,000 people. The survey also revealed that only a third of children are supervised when brushing. More than 10 percent of parents admitted that they had never supervised their child cleaning their teeth.
Many dentists will be unsurprised by the study findings. Statistics show that dental issues are the most common cause of hospitalisation in children, with more than 40,000 extractions carried out under general anaesthetic in English hospitals per year.
March 22nd, 2017
New figures released by the Royal College of Surgeons have revealed an alarming increase in the number of dental extractions carried out on children aged 4 and under.
Statistics published by the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons suggest an increase of 24 percent in the last decade. Ten years ago, 7400 extractions were performed on children aged 4 and under. In 2015/2016, this figure rose to 9,206. The faculty suggested that the number is not merely reflective of population growth, and claims that children’s sugary diets are taking their toll.
Lead researcher and dean of the faculty, Prof Nigel Hunt, said that the figures make it “abundantly clear” that the modern diet is having an incredibly harmful impact on children’s dental health. Dentists are treating children as young as 1 or 2 years old in hospital for a disease that is almost always preventable, and this is largely down to excessive sugar consumption.
Prof Hunt also commented that rates of uptake for dental checks are incredibly low, especially as NHS dental treatment is available free of charge for children. The latest research shows that more than 40 percent of children didn’t see a dentist in 2015/2016, despite dentists recommending at least one check-up per year.
The Department of Health is currently working on implementing a sugar tax and Public Health England is liaising with manufacturers to try and find a way of reducing sugar content in foods that are commonly consumed by children, such as yoghurts and breakfast cereals.
To try and reduce rates of decay, dentists are issuing advice and guidelines. The ‘Singing Dentist’ aka Milad Shadrooh has appeared on TV and radio shows plugging his educational videos, which change the lyrics of popular songs to make them dentistry-themed. The advice for parents is to supervise brushing from the age of 12 months, to moderate sugar intake and to ensure children see a dentist at least once every 12 months.