By Grace Williams
The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) have called for greater oral health education for parents, after their recent report found the most common reason five to nine year olds being admitted to hospital is tooth decay.
The report, published earlier this year, found that nearly 26,000 five to nine year olds were admitted into hospitals in England in 2013-14 with tooth decay, a figure that is up 14% from 2011. Many hospitals are struggling to manage the number of children coming to them for treatment, reporting that they are reaching ‘crisis point’.
The RCS are calling for the sugar content of food and drinks to be more clearly labeled as well as better education for parents in order to address the reasons, such as incorrect teeth-brushing techniques, behind the rise.
The report also found that children not accessing a dentist until it is too late was another reason for the rise in tooth decay.
The Department for Health said: “Children’s teeth are dramatically healthier than they were 10 years ago, but it still needs to improve.”
“NHS dentistry is free for children and we strongly recommend parents take children for regular check-ups.”
Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Royal College of Surgeons’ dental faculty, said: “We need to prevent children from reaching the stage where they need to undergo general anaesthetic in a hospital setting in the first place.”
NICE recommends that you should take your child to the dentist at least once every year. Some further advice on helping to ensure good oral health in your child is:
- Brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day, and continue to supervise them until they are at least 8 years old.
- Try to limit consumption of sugary or acidic food and drinks to mealtimes.
- Young children should drink water or milk; fruit juice should be avoided or limited due to its high sugar and acid content.
To find your nearest dentist type your postcode in this NHS service search.