The Children’s Dental Health Survey 2013 has recently been published. Since the last survey was carried out in 2003, there has been a reduction in the percentage of 12-15 year olds with obvious decay in their adult teeth.
Good news? Yes, of course, but tooth decay was still found in 34% of 12 year olds and 46% of 15 year olds (the figures for 2003 were 43% and 56% respectively). Over a third of 12 year olds and 28% of 15 year olds also said that they had been embarrassed to smile or laugh as a result of how they felt about the condition of their teeth in the past three months.
Other findings of the survey included:
◦ The percentage of children age 15 with tooth decay varied between England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
◦ 41% of 5 year olds from more deprived families had tooth decay in comparison with 29% in less deprived families. For 15 year olds in more deprived families, the percentage with tooth decay was 59%, compared with 43% in less deprived areas.
◦ Only 38% of children were classed as having good overall oral health.
◦ 15% of 12 & 15 year olds said they have sugary drinks four or more times a day.
So whilst these improvements in Children’s Oral Health over the past decade are pleasing, the results are a mixed bag. Many children start school with tooth decay and this carries on throughout their education. 3 in 10 five year olds have visible signs of decay, and by the time they reach 15, the proportion is close to one in two. Still significant room for further improvement.
Parents and carers need to be fully aware of how they can help to reduce the chances of children developing tooth decay. The most important message to remember is that it is not the amount of sugar children eat or drink that causes decay, but how often they have the sugary food & drinks.
Sugar causes the bacteria in plaque to produce acids & it is these acids that attack the tooth surface & cause decay. Cheese, breadsticks, nuts, whole fruit and raw vegetables are alternative tooth-friendly snacks. The British Dental Health Foundation recommends that by the age of two and a half, children should be having regular dental examinations so that any oral health problems can be spotted early.
To view the full report visit www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/ChildDentalHealth.
If you would like to make an appointment for your child to have a Oral Health Review, or if you would like more advice on preventing dental decay, please contact the surgery on 01329 823040.