Welsh Children Have Worst Decay in the United Kingdom

Image courtesy of Matt Banks at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Image courtesy of Matt Banks at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, 41% of Welsh 5-year-olds have obvious decay in their primary teeth, compared to 31% in England and 40% in Northern Ireland. These poor results stem from a lack of parental knowledge and inadequate practices, said David Tuthill, consultant pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital for Wales.

“Children, especially the very young, rely upon their parents for guidance when it comes to their oral care, making it imperative that parents are better educated on the basics of good child oral health,” said Tuthill. “Without better education, Wales will continue to be behind the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to children’s standards of dental care.”

A study led by Tuthill found that only 53% of Welsh parents know milk and water are the only safe drinks for young teeth. Also, 37% of parents allow their children to brush just once a day, 55% of parents don’t use sugar-free medicines, and 60% of parents encourage their children to rinse with water after brushing, against dental recommendations.

“The result of this particular study shows that nearly half of parents allow their children to drink sugary drinks between meals,” said Dr. Mair Parry, Welsh officer of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health. “This not only causes tooth decay and painful tooth extraction, but it also contributes to this country’s poor obesity levels.”

The study used a questionnaire based on Designed to Smile standards, a National Health Services dental program funded by the government of Wales. Participants were asked if their children brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, if they rinsed with water after brushing, and if they went to the dentist. In fact, only 12% of children are registered with a dentist.

“We need to raise awareness of the damage sugar can do to children’s health and look at implementing policies that foster healthier environments. That’s why, as a college, we call on the Welsh government to pilot and evaluate the impact a tax on food and drinks high in sugar, salt, and fat has on child health,” said Parry.

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