The dental health of children, including issues such as tooth extractions and decay are currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Numbers of child tooth extractions are up, causing what must be for many children, a great deal of unnecessary stress and discomfort, as well as putting additional pressure on the NHS.
Hospitals extracted multiple teeth from children and teenagers in England a total of 42,911 times – 170 a day – in 2016-17, according to statistics obtained by the Local Government Association
As a parent, and someone who spent a lot of time in the dentist’s chair from the age of ten (due to two broken front teeth rather than cavities), this worries me deeply not only because I know just how distressing and painful dental work is, but also because for most, it is avoidable.
I’d like to think I’m a well informed parent, but these statistics make me wonder just what’s missing in our parenting education, for this problem to be growing so dramatically.
Yes, we need to give our children less sugary foods.
Yes, supermarkets need to stop promoting sugary food.
But as well as dietary choices, how much do parents really know about the best ways to care for their children’s teeth?
As a parent educator, I also know it’s something that other parents lack confidence in too, especially those who have babies starting solids or preschoolers.
Is there enough support and information to support parents right from when a baby starts solids, through to when a child is left to brush their teeth independently?
With this in mind, I decided it was time put some of our parent questions to an expert, and I am very grateful to Samantha Glover, Dental Public Health Program Manager at Public Health England, for taking part in the following Q and A. All questions were submitted by The Organic Cookery School’s Parent Focus Group.
This first question came from Isabel, who like many parents often gives homemade smoothies as a way to boost her children’s intake of fruit and veg (particularly spinach, which as we all know becomes infinitely more acceptable to a child blitzed up with fruit)