A bright smile is well known for being one of our best features with ¾ of adults stating they feel having poor oral health would hinder them getting a job, and this may seem like a sad prophecy of our children’s futures as the oral health of Britain’s children has been on a downward spiral in recent years.
For the fourth year in a row, the number of children who are having their teeth removed due to decay has risen. Since 2014, the figures have risen by 3% with over 33,000 children under 10 undergoing tooth removal. Each year the figures have been rising;
- 2014-15 – 33,781 removals
- 2013-14 – 32,741 removals
- 2012-13 – 31,275 removals
- 2011-12 – 30,761 removals
What is tooth decay?
A tooth decays due to plaque collecting around the gums and ridges surfaces of the teeth, sugar laden food and drink are often high in carbohydrates which feed the bacteria and produces the acid which leads to decay. As soon as 20 minutes after a meal has been eaten, plaque can begin to build up and break down the surface of the tooth, the plaque is made of saliva and bacteria which is found normally in the mouth and is not a cause for concern typically. However, if plaque builds up it hardens into tartar containing acid which dissolves the hard enamel on the tooth leading to decay and cavities.
The most common causes of tooth decay are due to the modern diets we consume, which sees us snacking often and consuming food and drink full of acid and sugar.
Tooth decay is linked closely with gum disease, which may result in total tooth loss, and is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35-44 years) adults. Severe tooth loss can limit speech and the ability to eat and those who lose teeth may be required to opt for dental implants in order to reconstruct the mouth.
How can I prevent tooth decay?
- Most of us know the importance of brushing twice daily, but using the right kind of toothpaste can make all the difference. Fluoride prevents the build-up of plaque on the teeth and protects the enamel from softening. Shockingly 25% of people think fluoride is a marketing scam created by tooth paste companies, despite the evidence showing it can reduce decay by 40%
- Don’t eat anything straight after brushing your teeth, as the good work the fluoride is doing to protect your teeth will just be washed away.
- Many people think a toothbrush can be used until worn away, but as the bristles break down they are no longer reaching the areas they have been specifically designed to target. Dentists and oral care experts recommend you change your toothbrush every 3 months
- Reduce sugary food and drink from your diet as this puts you at higher risk than those who do not consume these products. Swap these snacks for foods that are high in calcium such as cheese and milk. Not only will you improve the health of your teeth, but also the strength of your bones, nails, and hair. Chewy foods like meat and sweets can get stuck in your teeth, brushing your teeth after consuming these will help prevents decay.
- One of the best ways to keep your mouth in its best health is to make regular appointments with your dentist. You are recommended to visit twice a year where you can undergo a specialist cleaning which makes plaque harder to attach to. You can speak to your dentist about any oral hygiene worries you may have and hear further advice on how to prevent decay.
Though recent years have seen the healthcare of the UK decline, globally we still have one of the best records for visiting the dentist with 72% of the population making scheduled appointments with their dentists regularly. Simply follow these tips to ensure a healthy mouth for the whole family in order to help prevent tooth loss or extraction in the future.