Children from lower-income families who do not eat a nutritionally sound diet are more likely to experience tooth decay, a new study has found, and the cases are on the rise.
Eighty-two children between the ages of 12-17 months, from Wisconsin’s Marquette University School of Dentistry, participated in a study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry. The research study showed, children who do not eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, fish and other healthy foods were three times more likely, by the age of six years old, to suffer from tooth decay.
The study revealed that 35 percent of families reported that they struggled to provide healthy meals for their children last year. It also showed that families who have lower incomes are prone to purchase foods with high sugar content. Children from these families also consumed more breakfast cereals and bread.
Government health statistics in England have shown that one in four children by the time they start school suffer from tooth decay. A child who is five-years-old will have between three and four teeth affected.
Dr. Nigel Charter, the chief executive of The Oral Health Foundation based in the United Kingdom stated, besides proper nutrition, it is essential that families have toothpaste and toothbrushes. He also said that access to NHS dental care must be improved.
Besides having a healthy diet, there are several other ways to prevent tooth decay.
Causes of Tooth Decay
When an individual consumes food or drink which contain starch or sugar, bacteria use these components to produce acids. The acid rips into the enamel of the tooth and eats away at it. When this cycle is repeated frequently, the enamel loses minerals. When this happens, a white spot appears on the tooth and is a sign that decay has started.
The Importance of Oral Hygiene To Prevent Tooth Decay
Limit in between meal snacks. If a child must snack, provide healthy options. This helps reduce the amount of acid attacking the teeth. Do not permit a child to drink or eat anything containing sugar after they brush their teeth at night.
Fluoride Treatments To Prevent Tooth Decay
The protocol used to be that children should receive their first fluoride treatment between 5 and 6 years old. Dentists now recommend fluoride treatments starting when the child is 1 year old. A child will not swallow fluoride because it is painted on the teeth and fluoride is beneficial for developing teeth.
Brushing Habits To Prevent Tooth Decay
When a child reaches the age of one, introduce proper brushing techniques. Check the methods regularly until they turn 12. The toothbrush should be soft and use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Bottle Decay Can Cause Tooth Decay
A baby should never go to sleep with a bottle of milk, formula or juice. Liquids can cling to the child’s teeth which bacteria thrive on and can cause tooth decay. Only give 4 ounces of juice daily and use as a treat. Use water in a bottle at nap time and when the child goes to sleep.
When Should The First Dentist Visit Be?
The child should have their first dental visit a few months before they turn one year old. The dentist will be able to monitor the development of the teeth.
Tooth decay can be prevented. It is vital for children to receive proper nutrition, and establish good dental habits at a young age.
Written By Barbara Sobel
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