Sugar rotting our kids' teeth
Posted on December 8, 2015 by Dr Pardeep Padda in Kids Club (clinic: Alton, Basingstoke, Emsworth, Ferndown)
The team at the Envisage Dental have recently been concerned with the rising number of young kids seen with several decayed teeth.
Dental caries is the number one reason why children aged 5 to 9 are admitted to hospital in England, even though this could be largely prevented through regular brushing, adequate exposure to fluoride and reducing sugar consumption.
Have you ever wondered how much sugar is in the foods and drinks we consume? Not many of us will take too much notice about the amount of sugars in our favourite snacks and teatime treats but maybe we should.
The effects which added sugars are having on both our general and dental health can be highly damaging, especially when consumed frequently. When sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque, the acids which are formed attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. If this occurs often, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a hole or 'cavity' and causing tooth decay. This almost always leads to fillings and could even result in teeth having to be extracted.
Did you know???
- That the examination of children's teeth suggests that there may be an unreported erosion epidemic, as many as 60 per cent of 12 year old children show evidence of tooth erosion. Across the UK, three in 10 five-year olds have visible signs of decay and by the time they reach 15, this increases to nearly one in two.
- Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diet comes from soft drinks, fruit juice and other non-alcoholic drinks and children aged 11-18 get 40 per cent of their added sugars from drinks, mainly soft drinks, such as cola. Around one in eight children admit to drinking sugary drinks at least four times a day.
- Britons eat around 700g of sugar a week: that's an average of 140 teaspoons per person. Teenagers' intakes are the highest of all groups and they consume 50 per cent more sugar on average than is currently recommended. Intakes of sugar for adults tended to be higher in the lowest income groups.
- Current Government advice suggests limiting sugar intake to 10 per cent or less of your daily calories, and this might soon be revised down to 5 per cent, in line with recent World Health Organisation recommendations: that's about 70g sugar for men (about 14 teaspoons) and 50g (about 10 teaspoons) for women, although this varies according to factors such as age, size and how active people are. Food and drinks high in sugar should only be consumed in small amounts.
Top tips to reduce chances of tooth decay:
- Limit sugar intake: In the mouth, the bacteria living on the teeth rapidly convert sugar into acid and it is this acid that dissolves the tooth enamel. The risk of developing decay increases as the amount and frequency of sugar consumption rises.
- Brush regularly: Keeping teeth clean by regular brushing helps prevent decay as the amount of acid generated is dependent on the quantity of dental plaque on the teeth. All children up to three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm, both morning and night. After the age of three, toothpaste should contain 1350ppm-1500ppm. Children's brushing should be supervised until the age of 7.
- Don't miss your check-ups: Ensure your children come in for regular dental check-ups, so any oral health problems can be spotted early.
- Put a lid on unhealthy snacks: The problem is made worse by the trend for sweets, which tend to be eaten between meals, and contain increasingly acid ingredients. Breadsticks, nuts and raw vegetables are far better alternatives to sugary snacks. Even if carbonated drinks are sugar-free, their acid properties will still lead to tooth damage, by erosion rather than decay. Raisins can be a problem too, as they tend to stick to teeth and attack enamel, so should be consumed after meals, rather than as a snack.
- Watch out for 'hidden' sugars: Pure fruit juices can be a healthy choice, but the natural sugars these contain can still damage teeth, so fruit juice should be consumed with a meal and only one glass (150ml) a day. Sugars in whole pieces of fruit are less likely to cause tooth decay because they are combined with fibre.
If you you're child hasn't seen a dentist recently, or you would like a second opinion regarding their diet or teeth, then please book in at one of our boutique clinics immediately.
Source: british dental association / www.dentalhealth.org