Dental decay amongst five year old children is more prevalent in Herefordshire than any other county in the West Midlands. The Dental public Health Epidemiology Programme for England published in May 2016, show that 41.3% of five year old children in Herefordshire have had experience of or currently have dental decay. Compare that to our closest neighbours Worcester (27.3%) or Malvern Hills (17.7%) Shropshire (21.5%) then it is clear that Herefordshire is failing in the dental health of it’s children.
Tooth decay damages your teeth and leads to fillings or even extractions. Decay happens when sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque. This forms the acids that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a hole or ‘cavity’ into the dentine.
Every time you eat or drink anything containing sugars, these acids attack the teeth and start to soften and dissolve the enamel. The attacks can last for an hour after eating or drinking, before the natural salts in your saliva cause the enamel to ‘remineralise’ and harden again. It’s not just sugars that are harmful: other types of carbohydrate foods and drinks react with plaque and form acids. (These are the ‘fermentable’ carbohydrates: for example ‘hidden sugars’ in processed food, natural sugars like those in fruit, and cooked starches.) Always check the ingredients.
Having sugary or acidic snacks and drinks between meals can increase the risk of decay, because your teeth come under constant attack and do not have time to recover. It is therefore important not to keep having sugary snacks or sipping sugary drinks throughout the day.
Children – at the age of 5 lack the manual dexterity to brush their teeth correctly and need supervised brushing. The Delivering Better Oral Health 2014 Toolkit recommends that all children between 3-6 years should brush using toothpaste containing more than 1,000ppm of fluoride. Children at a higher risk of developing decay should use a “pea size amount” of toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm – 1,450ppm fluoride.
Children at the age of 5 also lack the required funds to purchase sweets, fizzy drink, fruit shoot drink and other high products containing high levels of sugar. Parents therefore must take on the responsibility of caring for their child’s dental health with regular dental check – ups, good diet and good oral hygiene.
Bring your child as early as possible to visit the dentist. We need to reduce the incidence of decay amongst 5 year old children in Herefordshire to at least the level of our neighbours before we become the shame of the West Midlands.
Andrew Farr BDS(Hons) MJDF