A child’s health is dictated to a certain extent to how much money their parents earn and where they live. These inequalities are particularly evident when we consider the state of our children’s teeth in England. Tooth decay is the single biggest reason that children are admitted to hospital in the UK with 170 children being admitted to hospital every day in England alone. Tooth decay is a preventable disease and yet we are failing to tackle it.
There is a glimmer of good news. The number of 5 year old children with tooth decay has decreased a little over the last few years. The message must be getting through to some families. However, a slightly decreased rate of tooth decay in children hides the fact that inequalities are growing.
Although tooth decay is decreasing on the whole, it’s still on the rise in poorer areas. The areas where tooth decay is increasing among 5 year olds include parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Midlands.
Top of this highly undesirable chart is the area of Pendle in Lancashire. In Pendle, half of children have tooth decay. To put it another way, children in this area have a 50:50 chance of developing this disease that we should be able to prevent.
Tooth decay is a disease that causes pain, swelling and sleepless nights. It causes 60,000 days off school every year in England. It causes broken, discoloured, blackened teeth that lead to bullying in the playground. In the worst cases, it leads to admission to hospital for treatment (remember that 170 children go through this every day in England).
The current situation is a complete mess. We are all failing these children. The simple messages about how to avoid this preventable disease are not getting through to the families that need them.
What is tooth decay?
Let’s do a quick bit of nitty gritty theory. As you may or may not know, tooth decay is caused by sugar and bacteria. Within your mouth, there live loads of bacteria. This is normal. However, if these bacteria get hold of sugar, this is when the problems start. Bacteria take sugar from your diet, eat it and create acid. This acid damages the surface of your teeth. If bacteria are regularly eating sugar and making acid, the acid will cause so much damage that holes in your teeth start to form. This is tooth decay.
How do I prevent tooth decay?
Preventing tooth decay is really simple. You need to avoid sugar as much as possible and you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day using an age appropriate fluoride toothpaste.
What is The Online Dentist doing to prevent tooth decay and how can you help?
Last year, we did something that had never been done before. We created a dental health syllabus for each school key stage along with a huge range of free resources so that teachers could teach about dental health. They have proved to be extremely popular with hundreds of teachers; Westminster City Council now recommend that these resources are used in all of their schools.
If you know anyone who might find these FREE school resources helpful, please let them know about what we do. To take a look at these resources, just follow the link below. There are thousands of families that need our help. Please help us to spread our positive health messages so that we can make an impact.