Kids and tooth decay – who is to blame?
How does tooth decay happen?
Tooth decay occurs in children when bacteria within the mouth begin to eat away at the primary teeth. Inadequate dental care and unhealthy eating habits also contribute to tooth decay.
Is it the fault of Mum and Dad or that of the companies that create the food packaging and make the advertising?
We are famous for many things here in Western Australia; world-class wines, pristine beaches, the late Heath Ledger and the most remote capital city in the world! Recently, Access Dental Care in Perth has noticed a more undesirable claim to fame – kids with tooth decay!
The number of children coming into our practice with tooth decay is quite alarming, but what’s the reason behind it? It seems as though the majority of parents with toddlers and adolescents need to scratch up on some general dental care tips to keep their teeth plaque free.
What helps prevent tooth decay?
The story of the woman from Queensland who was sentenced to one year in prison for negligence when her nine-year-old daughter had to have 12 teeth extracted and was suffering from a gum abscess is at the extreme end of dental neglect. The mother apparently hadn’t taken her daughter to the dentist for more than 3 years and the only thing the little girl drank was cordial. Now whether or not the mother was educated enough to know that amount of cordial can be so damaging, the emphasis still ends with her.
Getting educated about the damaging effects certain food and drinks can have on children’s oral health is the responsibility of the parents. Saying “I didn’t know” may be a valid excuse, but it doesn’t do anything to protect your children’s teeth. There are many resources on the internet to help you decide on a good choice, and if you are really struggling to find the information you need, simply ask your dentist.
What foods cause tooth decay?
The main foods you should limit your child from consuming are ones with high sugar content. As a general rule, 15g of sugar per 100g is the optimal amount you should aim toward – this information is found on the nutritional label. Anything with higher than 15g of sugar per 100g should be restricted or completely discarded. The threshold at which you decide is enough sugar for your children is a personal decision, but the closer the sugar is to 100g– the worse it is for their teeth.
Good – below 15g
|Quantity per 100g|
Bad – over 15 g
|Quantity per 100g|
What causes tooth decay in children
Restricted foods come in both solid and liquid forms. Some of the main items on the no-no list are:
- Fruit Juices such as apple, orange and pineapple
- Cordial – all flavours unless specified as sugar-free
- Lollies should be used as a treat only. These include liquorice, gummy, boiled, eucalyptus, Mentos, butter menthols etc.
- Chocolate should only be consumed in the same fashion as lollies. The only exception is dark chocolate with a cocoa level of 85% or over (your kids probably won’t like that anyway)
- Cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, muffins, brownies etc. Check the sugar content when purchasing any of these items unless you make them yourself and know the amount of sugar is mixed in.
What about advertising?
It’s true that advertising and colourful packaging of foods can make the weekly grocery shop very difficult. With cartoon character endorsements and packaging that resembles children’s toys, making the right choice is often not an easy choice.
Ultimately, the parents are in charge of what their children put in their mouth and need to know what foods are good and what are bad. Access Dental Care recommends the combination of a low sugar diet and yearly dental check-ups as a sure-safe way to prevent tooth decay in children.