You may or may not have seen the news about schools and nurseries being the focus of steps to tackle the trend of tooth decay in children this week. If you have, then you may well be surprised to hear that more than one in ten three year olds in England have rotten teeth. In fact, in some parts of England there are as many as half of five year olds who have decayed, filled and even missing teeth.
New guidelines are suggesting that schools and nurseries should think about introducing supervised tooth-brushing and even fluoride varnishing programmes, to ensure that children clean their teeth every day.
In some respects, it could be argued that it’s a great idea. After all, good care of teeth when children are young means that they will suffer far less later on and could avoid things like gum disease and rotten teeth. However, there are many who believe that it is a parent’s responsibility to ensure their child’s teeth are being looked after adequately.
Perhaps the ‘milk teeth aren’t forever’ mentality has affected the level of care taken with young children’s teeth, but is this really the best way to think about it?
Rotten teeth (even if they are milk teeth) can have consequences later on – with things like oral health problems being more common in those who have experienced rotten teeth as children.
The sad fact is, many children have to undergo a general anaesthetic to have teeth out when they’re very young, which can only impact how they feel about the dentist as they get older. Perhaps the answer is to look after your child’s teeth from the day they start to appear, as prevention early on means a much better relationship with the dentist in the later years.
The best advice is to look after your teeth and your children’s – even if they are just ‘milk teeth’ with regular brushing, a sensible diet and regular check-ups with the dentist so that in the future they won’t have to worry about gaps in their teeth, missing teeth, gum disease or decayed teeth!