By: Laura Donnelly, The Telegraph UK
🤔 Most often, parents think their toddlers are too young to visit the dentist. The truth is, children should practice good oral habits as early as their first tooth appears. Read more! The Woodview Oral Surgery DC
Toddlers are increasingly having their teeth extracted because too many parents think they are too young for the dentist, leading surgeons have warned.
New figures show that 80 percent of one to two-year-olds in England did not visit the dentist in the last year, despite the fact NHS dental care for children is free.
It comes amid soaring numbers of children having teeth extracted in hospital, including those less than a year old.
Dental surgeons said parents were failing to bring babies toddlers for check-ups, with “widespread misunderstandings” about when infants should first visit the dentist.
Many parents do not worry about baby teeth, knowing they will be replaced by permanent teeth.
But dentists said getting children into the good habits early was important because otherwise they were likely to neglect replacement teeth and could become scared of going to the dentist.
Guidance states youngsters should have regular dental check-ups, starting from when their first teeth appear – which usually occurs around six months of age.
New figures collated by the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons show that 80 percent of one- to two-year-olds in England did not visit an NHS dentist in the year to March 31, 2017.
The figures also show that 60 percent of children aged one to four did not have a dental check-up in the same period, the RCS said.
The latest annual figures show that there were 9,220 cases of tooth extractions performed in hospitals in England on children aged one to four – a 24 percent rise in a decade.
They included 48 cases where infants were less than a year old.
The FDS said many of these cases are attributable to tooth decay – which is 90 percent preventable through good oral hygiene.
Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at The Royal College of Surgeons, said: “In a nation which offers free dental care for under 18s, there should be no excuse for these statistics.
“Yet we know from parents we speak to that there is widespread confusion, even in the advice given to them by NHS staff, about when a child should first visit the dentist.
“Every child should have free and easy access to dental care from the point when their first teeth appear in the mouth,” said Prof Hunt.
“The earlier a child visits the dentist, the earlier any potential problems can be picked up, so it is easier to prevent children having to go through the trauma of having their teeth removed under a general anaesthetic,” he added.
The RCS said many of the most common dental problems were easily preventable if the right advice was followed – including twice-daily brushing sessions with fluoride toothpaste, avoiding sugary drinks and snacks.
And they said getting children “comfortable in a dental environment” early was important, to avoid them becoming frightened of going to the dentist.
“If a first dental visit results in a stressful, traumatic experience, this could have a serious life-long effect on a child’s willingness to engage in the dental process,” Prof Hunt said.
Rotting teeth is the most common reason for hospital admissions among children of primary school age.