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Child Tooth Decay Exposed

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3:43pm 30th September 2014
(Updated 3:43pm 30th September 2014)

More than 10% of three year olds in Cornwall have tooth decay.

It is being blamed on sugary food, medicines and drinks.

Public Health England says we should try to offer just water or milk if youngsters are thirsty.

PHE is encouraging parents/carers of young children to:

  • Reduce both the amount and how often sugary foods and drinks are given to them
  • Not add sugar to weaning foods or drinks
  • Aim to introduce drinking from a free-flow cup from six months of age and stop feeding from a bottle from 12 months of age
  • Start brushing children's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and supervise their tooth brushing until they are seven or eight years old. Brush children's teeth twice daily, including just before bed, using a fluoride toothpaste
  • From the age of three, use only a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, for younger children a smear
  • Use only sugar-free medicines.

Dr Sandra White, Director of Dental Public Health at Public Health England, said: "While there have been significant improvements to the nation's oral health, some areas still experience problems with tooth decay among young children. Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease, which can be very painful and even result in a child having teeth removed under general anaesthetic, which is stressful for children and parents alike."

Professor Debra Lapthorne, Centre Director for the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset PHE Centre added: "Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle; by parents and carers reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks they give their children and supporting them to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, especially just before bedtime.

"It is also important to take your child to the dentist, which is free of charge for children, as the dentist will be able to advise you about how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy."

Pirate FM asked nutritionist Nicole Berberian if you can add a drop of squash: "That's giving a little bit of flavouring to it. It could be artificially sweetened which, there are stories about that as well, but again, getting them away from the sweet kick; that's what you're really trying to do.

"Change is always hard; starting off right is a lot easier. So when you're starting out and you've got young children, start them on the water. It's going to be a lot easier to bring them up if that's what they're used to. If that's what you're always served on the table - if families get used to always having a jug of water on the table and having glasses of water with the meals."

Jeremy Peak runs the River Dental Practice in Truro.

He tells Pirate FM baby teeth can set the shape of a child's mouth for life: "A lot of the teenagers we see - the problems are often caused by having baby teeth removed early or perhaps severely decayed, or they've got into bad habits when they're earlier with cleaning or diet. Things like sports' drinks or fruit juices, if they're consumed too often, can cause quite a lot of damage.

"Sometimes people see baby teeth as 'well, they're only temporary, they're going to fall out in a few years' time.' But actually they set the tone for how that child's mouth develops throughout their life and as an orthodontist, we see a lot of problems which are caused by early loss of baby teeth."

3:43pm 30th September 2014

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