While most parents are often worried about their kids getting injured while playing outdoors, a whopping 35,000 children younger than 10 needed tooth decay treatment in 2016 and 2017.
According to statistics, children under 10 are now twice as likely to be hospitalized due to tooth decay rather than a broken arm.
The worrisome matter is allegedly caused by their parents’ lack of awareness for proper dental care for kids. In the U.K., parents are also not taking advantage of the National Health Service’s (NHS) free dental treatment for adolescents younger than 18. (Related: Cure tooth decay naturally by understanding the actual cause of cavities.)
Aside from these factors, the consumption of sugary food and drinks also contributes to tooth decay, 90 percent of which is easily preventable. Based on data collated by the Royal College of Surgeon’s Faculty of Dental Surgery and the Press Association, there were an estimated 34,205 cases of children under 10 that required hospital treatment for tooth decay in 2016 and 2017.
Meanwhile, there were only 17,043 recorded cases of arm fracture, per NHS Digital data. Children also needed hospital treatment for other cases such as asthma (19,584 cases), epilepsy (10,397 cases), and appendicitis (3,805 cases).
Tooth decay in children may require hospital treatment if they need general anesthetic for teeth extractions, or if the decay has caused other issues that require more complex surgery. Professor Michael Escudier, who is part of the RCS Faculty of Dentistry, said, “No-one wants to see their child in hospital. He continued, “Sometimes this can be unavoidable, but when it comes to admissions caused by tooth decay, most cases are a result of simple preventative steps not being taken.” Among adolescents aged 19 and under, there were 45,224 cases of hospitalization for tooth decay.
Based on analysis by the faculty earlier in 2017, almost four in five children aged one or two haven’t seen a dentist in the previous 12 months. Parents are cautioned to take their children to the dentist the moment their first milk teeth appear. They must also take note that children’s NHS dental appointments remain free until they turn 18.
Professor Escudier added, “Tens of thousands of children every year are having to go through the distressing experience of having teeth removed under general anaesthetic.” He also said minimizing sugar consumption, regular brushing, and scheduled visits to the dentist can help prevent tooth decay.
Tips to prevent tooth decay in children
Teach your kids about the importance of proper oral care to prevent tooth decay. Here are some tips to keep those pearly whites strong and healthy:
- Visit the dentist regularly – Don’t wait until their teeth start hurting before you take your kids to the dentist. Schedule a dental checkup and cleaning every six months, which is the best way to prevent tooth decay. Once you settle on a dental “home” for your kids, the dentist can give you pointers on proper oral care.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils – Don’t share spoons or other utensils with your children, and practice proper oral care yourself to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
- Brush frequently to prevent plaque – When your baby gets their first tooth, use a soft-bristled brush on it for at least two minutes daily, or as needed. This can help eliminate plaque, which contains millions of bacteria, from each tooth. Teach them to floss once they have two teeth next to each other.
- Snack smart – Give your kids healthy snacks so they don’t crave junk food full of sugar (that can cause cavities) when they’re older.