Suffer the little children..

Latest survey on our children’s dental health makes for depressing reading..

The latest large scale children’s dental health survey’s report into the dental health of children in England Wales and Northern Ireland were released last week and despite some modest improvements in some areas of children’s oral health the overwhelming picture is still pretty bleak. These results pertain to 2013 with the previous data being gathered in 2003, so they are a little behind but it’s extremely disappointing to see that around 33% of 12-year-olds and 46% of 15-year-olds have tooth decay.

The survey is data collection only it does not suggest any reasons or suggest any remedies to the problems, but it is widely believed that the amount of added sugar taken through diet is a significant factor.

There are lots ways in which to combat tooth decay in children and in adults for that matter, and some of those advocating them give powerful and persuasive arguments,  Steven Hancocks writing in the British dental journal argues strongly the case for fluoride in the water supply consistently, and I can understand that perspective, (more on our view on fluoride later) but ultimately for me I think that the danger of this approach alone is that it can remove the responsibility of the individual.  No one is born with tooth decay, and I think the way to change these depressing numbers of tooth decay in our children has to be firstly through education.  In the long term it is only in this way that the real goal of individuals managing their own oral health will be achieved, after all even if we conquered our recent addiction to sugar, there will always be some other threat to our oral health and only through good education is an individual equipped with the necessary skills to deal with whatever the ‘new sugar ‘is.

But I guess that even the most optimistic side of me can’t believe that this will be enough by itself, indeed this isn’t just a problem for us in the UK,  a recent health study showed the number one reason why children visited a hospital in New Zealand in 2014 was to get their teeth removed under general anaesthetic. Whilst I think that ultimately education is the best long term solution I think we may also need the additional help provided by water fluoridisation.

For more information on the survey please have a look here. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/03March/Pages/are-half-of-childrens-teeth-rotten.aspx

To have a look at the case for water fluoridisation mentioned above  have a look here http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v218/n5/full/sj.bdj.2015.149.html

And to read more depressing news on the state of children’s teeth in New Zealand have a read here http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/67402054/rise-in-bad-baby-teeth-concerns-dentists

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