A large number of small children in the United Kingdom are having teeth extracted due to early tooth decay, which health experts believe is primarily the result of parents providing children too much fruit juice.
While fruit juices often contain healthy vitamins and nutrients, they are also high in sugars and can be highly acidic, two triggers for the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Tooth decay and related dental health issues in infants are of special concern because they can affect the structural development of a child’s mouth and contribute to future oral health problems.
The Root of Infant Teeth Extractions
According to a recent article in The Guardian, 12 percent of all 3-year-olds in the UK have some form of early tooth decay; that number swells to approximately one-third in some areas. Public Health England advised that children under 3 be provided only milk, water or recommended infant formula to drink.
The findings of a nationwide survey cited in the articled pin the blame largely on fruit juices and other sugary drinks. When consumed through a bottle or sipping cup, the sugars coat the backs of the front teeth, which leads to plaque accumulation and rot; the tooth decay can progressively spread and eventually affect the development of permanent teeth.
The problem is not just the consumption of sugary beverages, however. In an article from earlier this year about the increasing number of child teeth extractions, the BBC reported that the British Health Foundation attributed childhood oral health problems to parental neglect; the agency said many parents neglect to enforce a daily oral hygiene routine and fail to take their children to a dentist until the kids are already suffering from dental health problems.
Infant Oral Health in the U.S.
The problems with sugary drinks and baby teeth are not confined to the United Kingdom.
A massive 2007 study administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that tooth decay in U.S. children increased dramatically in a 25-year-period; 28 percent of all children between the ages of 2 and 5 were thought to have cavities. That research likewise placed a significant portion of blame on children consuming too much sugar.
Your infant’s oral health is critical to his or her future health. It’s important to establish good dental hygiene habits at an early age and visit a dentist for a checkup when the first tooth erupts or around the child’s first birthday.
If you’re seeking a knowledgeable and compassionate dentist in the Austin area, please contact Dr. Dan Matthews online or call our dental office at 512-452-2273 to learn why so many patients trust Dr. Matthews with their smiles.