Tooth decay is the greatest cause of hospital admissions for 5 to 9 years old in the UK, with 25,812 children aged five to nine being admitted to hospital with tooth decay with multiple extractions in a year.
Dental experts are blaming poor diet and education on dental health with many parents and children not visiting the dentist on a regular basis.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the most common cause for hospital admissions for children in the UK and is mainly due to poor oral hygiene and a high sugar diet.
Failing to brush our teeth and floss on a daily basis increases the risk of plaque, which is the main risk factor for cavities. Without regular brushing, plaque, a substance made from saliva and bits of food, stays in our mouth. The bacteria in plaque release acids, which gradually erode the enamel, causing cavities to develop in the tooth surface. Sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks and energy drinks are the main culprits, but other products, such as fruit juice and smoothies, can also be very damaging for the teeth. Many parents are unaware that smoothies and fruit juices contain sugar as they are led to believe that natural fruits are good for you.
How can we spot the signs of tooth decay?
The most common signs of tooth decay are mild to severe toothache, weakness in the tooth and sensitivity.
Check your children’s teeth at least once a week, as sometimes you can see the cavities,which appear as small brown or yellow coloured holes on the surface of the tooth. If you can spot these early, don’t ignore the problem, visit your dentist and you might be able to catch the tooth just in time before it’s too late.
What happens if decay is left untreated?
Cavities can become larger and eventually the tooth will fall out. There is also a risk of bacterial infection spreading and causing dental abscesses, which are very painful. The milk teeth are designed to fall out, but if they are lost earlier than planned, this can increase the risk of developmental and alignment issues with the adult teeth.