Did you know that in the UK last year more children under the age of 10 were admitted to hospital for problems arising from tooth decay than for broken arms? It is quite shockingly true!
The oral health of our children is becoming more of a concern today than ever before with new figures being released from the Faculty of Dental Surgery. According to their research, 34,205 children aged under 10 years old, between April 2016 and March 2017, were admitted for treatment in a hospital in England due to serious problems related to tooth decay.
This astonishing figure was actually much higher than the numbers of other more common childhood ailments that required hospital admission in the same year:
- Appendicitis – 3,805 children under 10 admitted
- Arm fractures – 17,043 children under 10 admitted
- Asthma – 19,584 children under 10 admitted
- Epilepsy – 10,397 spells of hospital care for children under 10
No parent wants to see their child admitted to hospital for any reason, but to be admitted for something like tooth decay seems almost unreal. What parents must recognise is that tooth decay can lead to much more serious oral health problems that will need hospital treatment, yet in most cases a lot of these issues can be prevented by having a good oral health system in place.
It can be hard to imagine that tens of thousands of children each year are having to go through the painful and distressing experience of having teeth removed under general anaesthetic. One reason why these figures are increasing is that many children are not visiting their dentist at all, let alone for regular check-ups. There is an issue that many parents are not aware that their children can get free NHS dental treatment up to the age of 18. Even parents who choose private dental treatments are not always booking family appointments on a regular enough basis to be able to catch the early signs of tooth decay in their children.
The number of five to nine-year-olds needing hospital dental care in 2016/17 were 25,923, a slight rise in numbers from 25,875 the year before. The over ten’s saw an increase too with numbers going from 7,249 to 7,303 in 10 to 14-year-olds needing hospital dental treatments.
The Government are keen to see a rise in the numbers of children visiting a dentist on a regular basis. It is right to encourage babies and toddlers to start attending regular dental check-ups as soon as their first milk teeth come through. Even taking them along as young babies can help them become more familiar and used to the environment. Watching their parents have a dental check-up can show them from an early age how important their own oral health can be.
Rewarding dental visits with non-sugary treats such as stickers, badges, crayons and colouring books can be a great way to help your young child look forward to their check-up.