Dr Ben Atkins BDS



Dr Ben Atkins BDS

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Dentists Media and Children’s Teeth Survey

18th April 2016

Dentists media and the recent survey on children’s teeth

Dentists media coverage is not always what we’d like. So it’s hard to over emphasise the importance of last week’s announcement by the Oral Health Foundation. This followed research released by the Local Government Association. It was good to see comprehensive coverage, in the print media and on the radio during last Friday (15h April 2016).

There are links to the i Newspaper and BBC Radio Tees (Listen below – great burst of Alright Now by Free before the start of the feature at 03.40!)

Great to see Britain’s latest newspaper New Day also give this story significant coverage.

Nearly 41,000 children under 18 had extractions of multiple rotting teeth during 2014/15. This is shocking. But this figure has almost doubled since 2010/11. It is a testament to the fact that so much more education needs to happen. We have to help change our eating and drinking habits and to improve basic oral hygiene.

And let’s not skip over the fact that last year, this cost the NHS a staggering £35,000,000.00

Dentists media and the sugar levy

It is a start that the Government introduced a sugar levy in the recent budget. I was delighted to have the chance to endorse the importance of this with a case study from one of my practices. This formed part of the budget package, on the ITN early evening and ten o’clock news.

But this decay and these extractions and totally preventable. First the basics. We should all clean our teeth with adult fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Do it once in the morning and then on one other occasion. After brushing, spit don’t rinse, otherwise the rinse may take all the fluoride out of the mouth and undo the good of the clean!

Make sure we clean our children’s teeth or encourage them to do it themselves. Let’s not forget that this survey is about children and in many cases we are talking about the extraction of baby teeth not adult teeth!

Then it’s back to sugar. We need to think more carefully about the number of times and the length of time we have sugar in our mouth on a daily basis. Trying to keep sugar intake to meal time is a good start, rather than snacking or drinking on high sugar content food and drink in between.

The best in between meals snack is whole fruit, where the sugar is contained within the cells of the fruit and doesn’t cause damage to the teeth. Take care though; convert the whole fruit to a smoothie, for example, and all that sugar is released making the drink no better than a common cola.

Dentists media and public health

Further good news was in Public Health England’s new Eatwell Guide. It shows the government’s revised recommended proportions of food groups. This follows the new sugar recommendations outlined by PHE. These call for reduced sugar intake to no more than 5% of our daily energy intake.

Reducing sugar intake is vital to healthy teeth, in both old and young. But giving children’s teeth the best possible start by reducing sugar intake is invaluable.

We need this number of under 18 multiple teeth extractions to fall as quickly as it has risen.


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