Oral Health : Impoverished Children Suffer from Poor Dental Health

By Natalie Smyth

CHILDREN as young as two are having teeth removed in Birmingham England due to decay.

The shocking situation was revealed by city dentists and staff who say cashstrapped families are resorting to cheaper foods and drinks with high sugar content.

Eddie Crouch, Secretary for the Birmingham Local Dental Committee, said decayed milk teeth had been removed from some city kids.

"I've seen extractions in children as young as two and a half,'' he said. ''It's to do with the economy. Parents buy cheaper foods that are higher in sugar content so children have a poor diet.

''Children take bottles with sugary drinks to bed, so this sugar is in constant contact with their front teeth."

Experts say that deprived areas of the city tend to be the worst in terms of child dental hygiene. Kids from poorer backgrounds are often also less educated on the importance of looking after their teeth.

Mr Crouch added: "Even after their first extractions, the same children tend to be the ones coming back for further extractions.

''They don't seem to learn and they carry on doing things to their teeth that are completely preventable.

"Many parents do not take their child to the dentist until they complain about something. But it is important to regularly take them, starting from a young age. It is important to start early as many problems can be stopped before they develop.

''The dentist can also motivate children to brush their teeth properly and teach them how to do so."

Birmingham Children's Hospital admits up to 15 children a day who have general anaesthetics for dental treatment.

Meanwhile, city dental nurse Hannah Smith, 22 and from Great Barr, has also seen young children with dental problems.

"Children's teeth are not being looked after as well as they should be,'' she said.

''I see too many children coming in with fillings; they need to decrease their sugar intake, particularly with drinks.

''Brushing their teeth should begin as soon as they get their first tooth and children should have a routine every morning and evening.'' But Sarah Farmer, Oral Health Programme Manager at Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, said the situation would be even worse if the city's water was not fluoridated.

She said: "On average, children in Birmingham have less decayed, missing and filled teeth than some other parts of the country because our water is fluoridated." (C) 2012 Birmingham Mail. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved
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