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Leeds dentist warns of tooth decay

At 10:00pm on Wednesday (February 18th), a Channel Four documentary will be broadcast entitled ‘Junk Food Kids: Who’s To Blame?’ that will look at the health levels of the UK’s young people. As is often the case, the series will focus on the most extreme patients, but one dentist has warned that the nation’s children are still at high risk.

The focus of the Channel Four programme is largely on obesity, with one example being a 13-year-old who is being considered for gastric band surgery due to weighing around 16 stone. However, consultant paediatric dentist Stephen Fayle has warned that tooth decay is also a major problem.

The dentist, who works in Leeds General Infirmary’s Leeds Dental Institute, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Between five to nine years of age, dental decay is the most common reason why children are coming into hospital care; many are having to have a general anaesthetic to have teeth removed.

“We need to make sure parents understand the importance of doing basic stuff before their children get to three.” Mr Fayle has plenty of experience dealing with tooth decay in children. By his own estimate, he removes between 7,000 and 10,000 teeth from young people every year.

In some cases, the patients Mr Fayle works on are just babies, and several times each year he will deal with a child under the age of three with dental caries in all 20 of their milk teeth. This is usually due to poor diet or not brushing teeth often enough, as well as a lack of knowledge on the part of parents.

For example, Mr Fayle pointed out that many parents do not make sure their child brushes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, while even more give their children sugary fruit drinks before bed, unaware that the acid can erode enamel and cause tooth decay. “Even bottles of milk and formula milk [are] highly decay producing,” the dentist added.

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