Young children are at risk of suffering from tooth decay during their early life if parents and dentists fail to work together to promote a healthy diet that reduces the amount of sugar they consume.
According to findings from a recent study, almost half of the 12 million children in England have rotting teeth or are close to developing tooth decay.
The Department of Health study, which was published by the Mail on Sunday, revealed six in ten children suffer tooth decay or gum disease by the time they are 17 – leaving them at risk of further health problems.
Unhealthy drinks and snacks that are filled with sugar are to blame for the rise in oral health issues among youngsters, dentistry experts have claimed.
The study comes after the government rolled out a traffic lights scheme, which is being trialled in 95 dental surgeries across England, which officials are hoping will lead to a revolution in the way children’s teeth are looked after.
As part of the scheme, patients are given a more thorough check-up than currently provided on the NHS, while receiving a green, amber or red rating on the condition of their teeth and gums.
Worryingly, figures obtained by the newspaper revealed that 28 per cent of England’s 44 million adults and 13 per cent of children under the age of 18 have a red rating – meaning they are suffering from tooth decay or gum disease.
Dentists are advised to highlight the dangers of poor oral health – and the implications it can have for patients’ overall wellbeing – through dental marketing campaigns, such as leaflets and posters explaining the dangers of unhealthy teeth and gums.
Dr Stephen Fayle, a Leeds-based paediatric dentistry consultant, said the findings were “worrying”, adding that too many parents let their children snack regularly.
He explained: “Parents think they are giving their children healthy drinks between meals, but they can do a lot of damage.”