Health officials are urging local authorities to take action to prevent children as young as three suffering from severe tooth decay.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced new guidelines to tackle the problem, in a bid to reduce the amount of young children suffering from tooth decay and gum disease – two of the most common, and largely preventable, dental problems.
Tooth decay can be painful, and in cases, can lead to the need for surgery under general anaesthetic to remove decayed teeth.
However, children can be prevented from such problems through effective oral hygiene habits and healthy diets.
According to NICE, standards of oral health vary widely, particularly among younger children. This was highlighted in a recent Public Health England survey, which found that in areas such as Leicester, more than a third of children showed signs of tooth decay, compared with just two per cent in other parts of the country.
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The organisation’s new guidance is aimed at schools, nurseries and local authorities, who are advised to consider supervised tooth-brushing and fluoride varnishing schemes for areas where children are at high risk of poor oral health.
Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said, ‘Children as young as three are being condemned to a life with rotten teeth, gum disease and poor health going into adulthood.
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‘Many children have poor diets and poor mouth hygiene because there is misunderstanding about the importance of looking after children’s early milk teeth and gums.
‘They eat too much sugar and don’t clean their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. As a society we should help parents and carers give their children the best start in life and act now to stop the rot before it starts.’
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