Scottish parents under fire for children’s oral health

The widespread availability of sugar-laden products and the lack of regular brushing being enforced are both partly to blame for staggering rates of decay. According to one dentist, parents in Scotland need to do more to ensure their children’s oral health is maintained.

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What Has Been Said

Paediatric dentist Professor Nicola Innes has blasted parents in Scotland and urged them to take more responsibility in an attempt to address the levels of decay in children’s teeth in Scotland. She notes that while the most deprived children are the hardest hit, parents of all children need to pay more attention to sugar reduction and what they’re eating and to oversee more regular brushing.

The State of Oral Health in Scotland

Scotland is still behind other developed countries when it comes to children’s oral health. Although government statistics suggest that the rate of Primary 1 children showing no overt signs of decay has increased, only 55% of five-year-old children from deprived areas in Scotland are decay-free, compared to 75% in England.

Causes of the Decay

Sugar is a primary culprit in tooth decay, both in terms of food and sugary drinks. Constant grazing on such food prevents the ability of the teeth and mouth to recover when plaque and acid form, and tooth enamel is consequently also weakened. Missed or inadequate brushing of teeth on a daily basis, which should be supervised for young children, is another important factor.

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What Can Be Done

Tackling the challenge of oral health is an issue that should be a collaborative effort between dentists, parents and school staff. The Scottish scheme, Childsmile, provides all nursery children supervised brushing for free on a daily basis.

Ensuring regular check-ups is vital. Some dentists emphasise a welcoming environment that feels less threatening for children, such as the general dentistry in Leicester practised by

Childsmile advises that what and when children eat every day can be vital to oral health. Less sugar in the diet, tap water and unflavoured milk for drinks, and supervised brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste are all recommended. Parents are urged to take responsibility for what they give their children to eat and drink, for monitoring their brushing and for making sure dental check-ups are carried out.