Thousands of children losing their teeth to preventable tooth decay
Thousands of children in the West Midlands are losing teeth to preventable decay, health officials have warned.
Latest figures suggest more than 2,000 children in the region are having teeth removed every single year because of decay.
Health experts warn the figure is on the rise because of an over consumption of sugar.
Data published by Public Health England (PHE) has revealed nine in 10 tooth extractions in the West Midlands among children aged 0 to 5 are due to preventable tooth decay.
There were 3,521 tooth extractions in the region in 2017/18, 2,005 of which were because of tooth decay. This is an increase on the 1,973 extractions in 2016/17 because of decay.
Among 0-5 year olds there were 633 extractions last year, 576 because of decay.
Tooth decay can cause problems with eating and sleeping, as well as resulting in at least 60,000 days being missed from school during the year due to the extractions, PHE say.
It says that, although improving, children are still consuming the equivalent of around eight sugar cubes more than the recommended daily limit – often eating 11 grams just at breakfast.
In response to this and in an attempt to lower the amount of tooth extractions, PHE has launched its Change4Life campaign, which encourages parents to swap sugary foods and drinks for healthier alternatives to protect their children’s teeth.
Dr Sandra White, the dental Lead for PHE, said: “Children are consuming far too much sugar each day, and this can have a very serious impact on their oral health.
“Parents can help reduce their children’s sugar intake by making simple swaps when shopping and making sure their children’s teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Small, consistent changes like these can have the biggest impact on children’s teeth.”
Change4Life is encouraging parents to switch to lower sugar alternatives to help reduce their children’s sugar intake from some everyday products, such as sugary drinks, yogurts and breakfast cereals.
- Swapping sugary drinks and snacks such as split-pot yoghurts for lower or no sugar alternatives, including lower-sugar yoghurts or no-added sugar juice drinks
- Limiting fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only allowing them to be consumed with meals
- Ensuring children brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reminding them to ‘spit not rinse’, as rinsing washes away the protective fluoride
For more information and for advice on reducing the intake of your child, visit www.nhs.uk/change4life