If you want to keep your child away from the emergency dentist, one of the best ways is to keep your child away from sugar. The others, of course, are regular brushing, regular flossing and regular trips to the dentist.
In Australia, more than 63,000 children are given a general anaesthetic for dental treatments. That makes dental procedures the third most common cause of hospitalisation among Australian children. Some children having decayed teeth removed are only 2-3 years old.
The main cause of all this tooth decay in children is the amount of sugar in their diets. Processed and packaged foods are full of hidden sugar. TV shows that encourage us to cook with natural food still have too much sugar in many of their recipes.
We Aren’t Taking Children’s Dental Health Seriously Enough
One of the main problems is that too many Australians still think it’s OK to let their children’s “baby teeth” rot because they are temporary anyway. This not only causes young children to have so many dental surgeries but also has an effect on their adult teeth.
Decay in the baby teeth is not as harmless as many think. It is actually a reliable predictor for decay and problems with adult teeth. If your child needs extractions and fillings already, it is almost a foregone conclusion that they will need extractions and fillings the rest of their lives.
One reason is that dental treatments can be traumatic for a child, especially if the dentist is an “old school” dentist who doesn’t go out of his or her way to provide the child with a positive experience. This can cause a distaste or a fear of the dentist, which only gets worse as an adult. The adult avoids the dentist and doesn’t go until he or she has a condition that is so bad it requires an emergency dentist.
If you avoid the dentist as an adult, you don’t get the regular checkups, regular cleanings and preventative treatment that can sustain a state of good dental health. Another big problem: if you lose teeth early, it can make your other teeth become crooked and require braces or worse. This makes it more difficult for children to develop self-confidence or a healthy self-image.
Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease in Australian children. Half of children aged six years already have decay in their baby teeth. By the time they turn 12, half of Australian children also have decay in their adult teeth.
The average amount of sugar consumption per person per day in Australia is 14 teaspoons. The World Health Organisation recommends no more than six.
Even with the label regulations we have in Australia, manufacturers can still “hide” sugar by calling it different names. For example, these words all mean sugar: dextrose, sucrose, glucose, cane juice, maltose, corn syrup or agave nectar. Our labels list how many grams of sugar are in a food product, but a listing of teaspoons would be more effective so we can visualise just how much sugar is in our foods and beverages.
Four grams of sugar is approximately one teaspoon. So if you have a sweet beverage whose label says it contains 48g of sugar, that works out to 12 teaspoons. That is a lot of sugar.
The Health Star rating system is supposed to protect us, but the rating system is voluntary. Even when companies comply, it can be a joke. For example, Sanitarium Up & Go contains fructose, corn syrup solids, malto-dextrin and cane sugar. Its total is five teaspoons per serving. For some reason, it gets 4-½ stars, which is almost one star for every teaspoon of sugar.
Help Your Child Avoid the Emergency Dentist
So, how can you help your child avoid hidden sugars? There is no “magic bullet,” but there are things you can do. Read the labels of anything you buy. Try to stay around the edges of the market, where the produce, meat and other whole products are located. This helps you eat less processed food.
To learn more, call 1300 Great Smile today:(08) 9404 9500