Preschoolers in New South Wales Australia are experiencing a rise in a completely preventable issue known as tooth decay. So much so that many children are needing to have teeth removed. The number of children undergoing surgery in 2014-2015 in the age groups 0 to 14 was 402.5 per 100,000. The issue has also touched upon smaller children as well with the age group 0 to 4 having a rate of 343.5 per 100,000 children. This is an alarming rate considering that for the years 2001-2002 the rate for all children was 300 per 100,000.
Dr. Sabrina Manickam, president of the Australia Dental Association NSW branch, said that dental conditions make up the most preventable hospitalizations among children and that parents had to act. “I have seen it many times when kids need all their teeth removed,” she said. “The youngest I had was three years old. I can’t blame parents for not understanding but once they have the knowledge they need to make decisions that make dental health the priority.”
Manickam said that “poor diet” is usually the culprit saying, “It’s the frequency of sugar and it can vary from sugary breakfast cereals that target kids to beverages like chocolate milk and soft drinks and Coke. I’ve seen cordial in the kid’s bottle, fruit juice in the bottle and I have seen Coke in the bottle, that can never be justified.”
Mothers are even being advised to wipe their babies’ teeth after breastfeeding as an extra precaution against rot caused by sugars. Children are having to go under general anesthesia during the tooth removal so they don’t develop a fear of the dentist, which comes with risks.
According to the Center for Disease Control, children in the U.S. also face serious dental problems:
- About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families (25%) compared with children from higher-income households (11%)
Brushing teeth and flossing two times a day, regular checkups, and a healthy diet with limited sweets are all simple and logical ways to keep your children’s teeth and gums healthy. It’s up to the parents to teach their children healthy habits that will carry over into adulthood. Something so simple to prevent putting your child at risk is worth the little time it takes.