Tooth decay is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.
Recent data has revealed that 170 children and teenagers in England are undergoing tooth extractions under general anaesthesia in hospitals in England every day.
Official data has revealed an 18% increase in the number of extractions taking place on children in hospitals since 2012, costing the NHS £205 million.
What are doing about protecting children's teeth?
A year on from the introduction of the Sugar Levy (1 April 2018), we are urging government and local authorities to step up the in the fight against tooth decay, through cost-effective programmes such as supervised brushing in nurseries.
Estimates from the Local Government Association suggest HMRC have amassed over £300m in revenues.
We believe that less than 2% of current revenues would be enough to bring supervised brushing programmes to 5-year-old children in the greatest need.
To date no levy revenue has been earmarked to combat tooth decay.
Top tips for dental patients
One of the most important messages that dentists can give to patients is to remember that it is not just the amount of sugar you eat or drink that causes tooth decay, but also how often you have those sugary foods and drinks.
Quitting fizzy drinks: Fizzy drinks are the largest single source of sugar consumption for children aged 11-18, and they provide an average of 29% of daily sugar intake - cutting them out for a month is an easy way to reduce sugar intake and to help encourage a reduced intake for the rest of the year, by switching to healthier alternatives.
Sugar-free fizz is still bad for teeth: The fizz in sugar-free drinks is still acidic, and can cause tooth erosion, so it's much better to switch to tooth-friendly alternatives like water, milk, or a small serving of fruit juice - but this is best consumed with a meal, to avoid the erosive acidity of the fruit juice.
Reduce sugary snacks: the risk of developing tooth decay increases as the amount and frequency of sugar consumption rises.
Brush twice a day: keeping teeth clean by regular brushing helps prevent decay. Children's brushing should be supervised until the age of seven. Ask your dentist for more advice.
Use a fluoride toothpaste: all children up to three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm, both morning and night. From three to six years old, their toothpaste should contain more than 1000ppm. For children six years and older, the recommended amount is between 1350ppm-1500ppm.
Visit the dentist on a regular basis: ask your dentist how often you should visit and keep your appointments, if oral health problems are spotted early, then they can often be dealt with much easier. Your dentist can answer any questions you have about the best way to look after your child's teeth.
Watch out for 'hidden' sugars: pure fruit juices can be a healthy choice, but the natural sugars these contain can still damage teeth. If you are offering fruit juice, drink it with a meal and only in a small glass (up to 150ml).
What is the BDA doing on sugar and oral health?
We have been leading on calls for radical action to lower the nation's sugar intake, with measures ranging from lowering the recommended daily allowance, through to action on marketing, labelling, and sales taxes, to prevent tooth decay.
When it comes to oral health, we believe in prevention first: tooth decay is an avoidable disease and we are campaigning for Government's to take this problem seriously, to act now and invest in real prevention.
BDA Northern Ireland continues to highlight the ‘lost’ sugar tax money and the need for it to be channelled in to long term preventative oral health measures.
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Useful resources for dental professionals