Dentists join war on sugar to fight childhood tooth decay

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Dentists around the UK are urgently calling for sugar to be slashed in children’s diets in a bid to prevent tooth decay.
The appeal comes after figures have shown the number of children who are treated in hospital for tooth decay is double those who are admitted for broken arms.
The war on sugar in young people has become a significant talking point among the health industry in recent years because of increasing obesity rates in primary school children. The combination of sugar overconsumption, a poor diet and lack of exercise has previously been blamed for the obesity rise that is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes.
The tooth decay figures, released by the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons and based on NHS Digital data, revealed that last year there were 34,205 cases of children under the age of 10 who needed hospital treatment on their teeth. The youngest was less than a year old.
Compared to that same time period only 17,043 broken arms were seen to, followed by 19,584 asthma cases and 10,397 epilepsy issues.
Professor Michael Escudier, dean of the FDS, said: “Sometimes this can be unavoidable, but when it comes to admissions caused by tooth decay, most cases are a result of simple preventative steps not being taken.
“Tens of thousands of children every year are having to go through the distressing experience of having teeth removed under general anaesthetic. Reducing sugar consumption, regularly brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits will all help ensure this is avoided.”
The FDS has said that in 90 per cent of cases tooth decay is avoidable, but a lot of parents avoid taking their children to the dentist, not realising it is a free service until they turn 18.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the British Dental Association’s (BDA) chair of general dental practice, said: “These shocking statistics are rooted in an abject failure by government to tackle a preventable disease. It’s a scandal that when some local authorities are doing sterling work, others are sitting on their hands while Westminster offers radio silence.”
The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry has launched a campaign, support by the FDS, encouraging parents to ensure their children go to a dentist before they turn one.