The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has this year targeted what it calls “Sugar Bandits” during Dental Health Week (August 4-10) this year. The emphasis is trying to protect children from tooth decay caused by overindulgence in sweets, which can be fostered by an adult in the home.
Chronic, Widespread Effects
According to information released by the ADA, nearly 60% of children over age 8 have at least one filling and children in half of the nation’s households have had tooth decay in the past year. This is a serious problem–though it should be noted that this is much less than the 90-95% tooth decay rates seen a century ago–and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do something about it. Tooth decay is one of the most preventable illnesses in modern medicine.
High Sugar Consumption
Overall, Australians eat more than double the world average of 17 teaspoons of sugar a day. Sugars are easy, quick energy for bacteria in the mouth, which can cause them to thrive, causing cavities and gum disease. Although 39% of parents believe they should do a better job at giving their kids a better role model, they are actually a major part of the problem.
Parents Can Influence Kids’ Oral Health
There are many things parents need to do to help their kids protect their teeth and gums. Parents need to work harder to limit the number of soft drinks, energy drinks, and juice children get (about a third let their kids have these potentially damaging beverages four times a week or more. Remember, although juice contains many nutrients, it also contains sugar, and it may be highly acidic, which can erode tooth enamel.
Parents also need to work hard to make sure kids are following good oral hygiene habits. About 59% of parents complain about the difficulty of getting their children to brush their teeth twice a day.
Another problem is using food as a reward, bribe, or comfort for children, when these foods can contribute to decay in children’s teeth. Some of the most serious culprits include:
- Dried fruit (though not necessarily raisins)
- Sweet and savoury biscuits
- Muesli bars
- Children’s cereal
- Canned fruit
- Banana bread
- Fruit juice
- Sweetened milk
By working to limit access to these and other foods high in sugar, remembering to rinse with water after eating, and regularly brushing children’s teeth parents can prevent decay.
And it’s important to make a good example for your children by brushing your teeth and making regular checkups. If you are looking for a Baulkham Hills dentist for your checkup, please call (02) 9686 7375 for an appointment at My HIlls Dentist.