Dentistry has been making headlines in the national news for all the wrong reasons this summer. First there was a report from the Royal College of Surgeons about the concerning levels of tooth decay amongst children. Department of Health figures show the third most common reason for children being admitted to hospital is for dental problems. There was also a report published by the British Medical Association calling for a 20% sugar tax, and similar lobbying by The British Dental Health Foundation has been widespread since May.
In the light of this Philips Oral Healthcare (which has the BDHF accredited children’s toothbrush – Sonicare for Kids amongst its sonic tooth brush portfolio) has reissued guidelines for dental professionals treating children drawn up with paediatric consultant, Mr Thayalan Kandiah.
Mr Kandiah heads up the consultant-led paediatric dental service at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust where, since its launch in January 2013, they have performed multiple extraction cases on young children – eight out of 10 of these patients had advanced dental disease.
‘Dental decay is prevalent’ says Mr Kandiah. ‘Children are referred to me with advanced dental disease requiring multiple extractions under general anaesthetic. Although too many sweets are famously not good for our teeth, it is drinks that are becoming the greater cause of child dental decay. Young children are going to bed with a bottle, and the increase in fruit smoothies and juices being consumed daily, are two major problems’, adds Mr Kandiah. ‘The combination of high acid levels and sugar can destroy young teeth. Up to 50% of children’s teeth show signs of damage due to acid attack.’
To help counter the problems Mr Kandiah has drawn up some top tips for GDPs, dental teams and the parents of patients they treat.
Top ten tips for the GDP team
- Wear patient-friendly clothing that is less likely to cause concern to younger patients
- Brightly coloured crocs or other such attire is non-threatening and fun
- Use distraction techniques and devices to entertain or divert a child’s attention
- Ensure there is a child-friendly waiting room with toys and TV
- Allow young children to sit on mum or dad’s lap, rather than the dental chair for initial consultations
- Encourage younger patients to look through dental equipment to help demystify it
- Ensure the parent is as reassured and relaxed as possible, so that they don’t communicate fear to their child
- Learn from best practice in other practices
- Why not set up a dedicated tooth brushing area to see at first-hand how a child is cleaning their teeth and to offer advice to parents?
- Educating parents is an absolutely vital part of the treatment to prevent future oral health problems in their children.
Top ten teeth tips for parents
- Brush your child’s teeth for them until the age of seven
- Children should consume fizzy drinks, smoothies and juice as a treat, preferably sticking to milk and water at other times
- If children do consume fizzy drinks, smoothies and juice, they should be encouraged to do so through a straw
- Restrict sweets, fruit juices, smoothies and fizzy drinks to meal times
- Drink water afterwards to wash away the acid
- Do not brush the teeth until an hour after eating or drinking
- Wean children off drinking milk from bottles by the age of one as soon as possible after they start eating proper food and certainly by the age of 18 – 24 months)
- Children should not be allowed to take a bottle or feeder cup to bed
- Drinking juices from a feeder cup should be avoided
- Use fluoridated toothpaste twice daily.
Making tooth brushing child’s play
There are manual brushes and then there are tools, which can help children more significantly. Philips Oral Healthcare developed the only sonic toothbrush especially for children, which was awarded accreditation by the British Dental Health Foundation after its panel reviewed a number of clinical studies attesting to its efficacy. These corroborate that Sonicare for Kids removes significantly more plaque than a manual toothbrush and that it is safe and gentle on children’s gums.
Importantly in relation to the consumer research, the clinical trials also demonstrate that children brush for significantly longer with Sonicare For Kids than with a manual toothbrush and it helps establish healthy brushing habits early on, so encouraging greater brushing compliance amongst children aged four-10 years.
Mr Thayalan Kandiah is acting as a consultant to Philips Oral Healthcare on matters relating to paediatric oral health to support the launch and roll out of its new Sonicare for Kids sonic toothbrush.
For more information about Sonicare for Kids visit www.sonicare.com or telephone 0800 0567 222.