A major survey of pre-school children in the United Kingdom has found that more than one in 10 three-year-olds have tooth decay. Public Health England (PHE) researchers checked the teeth of nearly 54,000 children at nurseries, children’s centres and playgroups, and found that 12% had evidence of tooth decay, with an average of three teeth that were decayed, missing or filled.
Researchers also said that some children had a particular type of decay known as early childhood caries. This affects the upper front teeth and spreads quickly to other teeth. It is linked to the consumption of sugary drinks in baby bottles or sipping cups.
PHE said that parents should give their children sugary foods and drinks in smaller quantities and less often. It also urged them not to add sugar to weaning foods or drinks.
Parents and carers should also start brushing children’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and supervise their brushing until they reach the age of seven or eight.
Previous research by the organisation has shown that by the age of five, one in four children has tooth decay.
Dr Christopher Allen of the British Dental Association said: “Parents and carers may feel that giving sugar-sweetened drinks is comforting, but it’s more likely to cause pain and suffering as it is the major cause of tooth decay. It’s never too soon to take your toddler to the dentist – ideally no later than 18 months.”