Tooth extractions, for the most part, are usually a last-minute resort. This goes for primary and permanent teeth. Losing a baby tooth before it’s ready to fall off can cause crowding malocclusion. Each adult tooth lost means a smaller jawbone, which can cause problems in your later adult years. When your child’s teeth reach an advanced stage of tooth decay, however, it might be the only option. And for kids in Lancashire, England, tooth extractions seem to be the way to go for their rotten teeth.
According to an article by LancsLive, more than 1,300 children 10 years and younger had tooth extractions under general anesthesia in 2018. This startling statistic sparked concern from dental professionals, particularly from the UK’s Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). Some see it as an eye-opener to a potential “dental hygiene crisis” sweeping this part of the UK. Some may ask what is lacking in these children’s dental care.
But what’s caused these Lancashire kids to get tooth extractions so early? And what can we in the US learn from this?
Most Lancashire Kids Consume Sugar Beyond the Recommended Limit
Sugar is the biggest offender when it comes to tooth decay. It’s something Americans know very well—a high-fat, high-sugar diet is an age-old foe that’s been battled through the years and various fields. And this obsession with added sugar has long been a source of dental problems for younger kids.
A similar thing happened in Lancashire. The LancsLive report notes that while the kids’ sugar intake has gone down in general, Lancashire children still consume around eight sugar cubes more than what they need to take. It’s not how much they consume that causes the problem, per se; it’s more how often they eat these sugar-laden treats. The report goes on to say that kids eat a whopping 11 grams of sugar(!!) during breakfast alone.
Understandably, health experts called for parents to limit their children’s sugar intake. In an article by the Lancashire Post, Dr. Sandra White of Public Health England (PHE) advised parents to swap out their kids’ typical sweet treats for something with less sugar.
And this is probably something we can emulate as well. Sure, it can be hard to cut down when your kids are used to their typical tasty treats. Introduce the swaps gradually, and keep small amounts of sugary treats within their regular diet in the beginning. In the meantime, you can lessen the impact of these sugary snacks by having your kiddos eat after an actual meal and by having them brush twice a day.
Get Your Government Involved
While a sugar-laden diet is one of the more significant driving factors for these high levels of tooth decay, they’re not the only reason to blame. Another is the lack of initiatives for dental health. As the Lancaster Post article notes, Lancashire kids who live in lower economic areas tend to have a lower quality of dental care.
In Wales and Scotland, for instance, there are dedicated oral health programs for children. These include free toothbrushes and daily brushing sessions. In places like Lancashire, however, it still might take a while before these come into play.
An important takeaway from this, then, is that sometimes government intervention is needed to fix these oral problems. A well-built initiative, in particular, could do wonders for children’s dental care.