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12% Of 3-Year-Olds In England Have Tooth Decay

Small boy smiling about to brush his teeth

The first national survey of the oral health of 3-year-olds by Public Health England finds 12% of children have tooth decay.

Dr Sandra White, Director of Dental Public Health at PHE, said:

 “Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease, which can be very painful and even result in a child having teeth removed under general anaesthetic, which is stressful for children and parents alike.

Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. By parents and carers reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks they give their children and supporting them to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, especially just before bedtime. It is also important to take your child to the dentist, which is free of charge for children, as the dentist will be able to advise you about how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.”

Sugary drinks and tooth decay

The survey found some children had a type of decay called ‘Early Childhood Caries’. It affects the upper front teeth and spreads rapidly to other teeth. The cause of this type of decay is sugary drinks given in baby bottles or sippy cups.

Safe drinks for children’s teeth

Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for babies. The best drinks for young children aged 1 to 2 are full fat milk or water. From 2 years old, semi-skimmed milk or water is fine as long as the child is a good eater.

Healthy teeth for kids

To keep children’s teeth healthy, PHE is encouraging parents and carers of young children to:

  • Reduce both the amount and how often sugary foods and drinks are given to them not add sugar to weaning foods or drinks
  • Aim to introduce drinking from a free-flow cup from 6 months of age and stop feeding from a bottle from 12 months of age
  • Start brushing children’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and supervise their tooth brushing until they are 7 or 8 years old
  • Brush children’s teeth twice daily, including just before bed, using a fluoride toothpaste
  • From the age of 3, use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, for younger children a smear
  • Use only sugar-free medicines



Posted by Bridge Dental and Implant Clinic on 8th October 2014, under Dental health