What is recognised to be good for your body could in fact be bad for your teeth and the cause of serious problems.
The act of feeding children “healthy” foods and drinks such as fruit and juices could be having a negative effect on their oral health. Citrus fruits and juices in particular have the potential to have an adverse end result on dental health – the amounts of sugars and acid released by fruits are astounding. It is therefore wise to limit children to eating and drinking fruit or juice at meal times, otherwise the acidity can begin to wear away the enamel of their teeth.
This becomes more of a problem when people are under the illusion that to rectify this, they must brush their teeth after every meal and every drink. Nothing could be more disastrous as after drinking a glass of fruit juice the acidity softens the enamel on the tooth which can then be worn away if teeth are brushed immediately afterwards. It is therefore so important to try and wait at least an hour after eating to ensure that the enamel has hardened sufficiently so teeth remain intact.
It is a dentist’s responsibility to try to identify and acknowledge the early signs of dental erosion then manage and treat them accordingly. Bespoke advice can be given to parents, highlighting the preventative measures that can be taken to avoid dental erosion in their own mouths or their children’s. Adjunctive precautions such as fluoride gels, mouthwash or simply drinking more milk/water are suitable for young people.
Children are more at risk from dental erosion than others. A 2013 UK soft drinks report specified that over 99 per cent of households consume soft drinks. The amount of acidic and sugary drinks that children consume is therefore concerning. Some parents are using fruit juices and fizzy drinks as pacifiers, often before a child goes to bed and this is having a harmful effect on their teeth.
In addition to this, parents are keen to ensure that their child has had their five a day.
The frequency of dental erosion may be growing. This has been seen in a study of 202 five year old Irish school children, where the prevalence of dental erosion overall was 47 per cent, and in 21 per cent of cases erosion affected the dentine or pulp (this is the nerve of the tooth).
We live increasingly frantic lifestyles and maintaining oral health by eating and drinking the right things is becoming harder.
Early prevention and instilling good habits into children is the best defence against dental erosion and other oral health problems. Children with healthy milk teeth are less likely to have unhealthy permanent teeth when they erupt. This, alongside the fact that poor oral hygiene is closely linked with other health problems, means it is crucial that children’s dental health is closely monitored and maintained. It is therefore imperative that children not only stick to a balanced diet of foods and drinks, but also that they visit the dentist regularly for examinations.