Almost a quarter of parents in the South-East think that it is acceptable for a child to have experienced tooth decay before they have reached their teenage years.
This is one of the shock findings in a new survey of parents of children aged one-11 from Denplan, a UK dental payment plan specialist.
According to the survey, many parents try a multitude of methods to help their children manage their oral health effectively.
However, over a third (36%) of parents in the South-East admitted that the reason they believed teeth decay was acceptable was because they found it ‘difficult to control how effectively their children clean their teeth on a daily basis.’
Although only a very small minority of people can attribute dental problems to genetics, a family history of poor oral health was also cited as a reason why many parents now accept decay.
Seven per cent of parents in the South-East admitted to letting sugar get the better of them, while more than a third (36%) blamed a history of poor oral health for issues with decay in their children’s teeth.
The new statistics come as the Government recently announced the introduction of a sugar tax on the soft drinks industry that will come into effect by 2018.
Experts have long-petitioned for the tax to be introduced to help curb incidence of childhood obesity and tooth decay, the latter being the number one reason that children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital.
Denplan’s research suggests that the tax could be warmly welcomed by parents in the South-East with over a third (37%) of parents surveyed claiming that they believe that tooth decay can be prevented by limiting the amount of sugar in a child’s diet.
One in five parents in the South-East also believe that tooth decay can be prevented by taking children to the dentist as soon as their first tooth appeared.
Despite these good intentions, only 40% of parents in the South-East said they take their children to the dentist every six months and only a quarter (26%) said they actually reduce the amount of sugar their child consumes.
Commenting on the research Dr Henry Clover, Chief Dental Officer at Denplan, said: “It is clear that while parents in the South-East have the best of intentions with their children’s dental health, it can be difficult to keep up good habits amongst a backdrop of hidden sugars in our foods and drinks and children’s reluctance to follow a good oral health routine. Milk teeth are not practice teeth and learning to care for their teeth on their own is a major milestone that every child has the potential to reach with the right guidance and plenty of practice. Children should be supervised when they brush their teeth until at least the age of seven, and it’s also important that they see their dentist regularly from when their first tooth appears to check for any problems that may be affecting their oral health and make sure that they are cleaning their teeth effectively.”
In light of the research findings, Denplan is encouraging families in the South-East to take part in the Big Summer Brush-Up, making the most of the summer holidays to visit the dentist and spend time practising brushing techniques with their children.
Working with five families, Denplan has also developed ‘Denplan’s Little Book of Healthy Smiles’, containing handy advice from dentists and tips on how to enthuse unwilling children to brush up on cleaning teeth, written for parents by parents.
To find out more about managing your family’s oral health visit www.bigsummerbrushup.co.uk or see your local Denplan dentist.
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