Public Health England (PHE) will be working with dental teams in the South East to give sugar the brush off and help parents change the snacks they give their children.
PHE’s Change4Life campaign advises families to look for 100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max, after research showed children were eating nearly three times the recommended amount of sugar; with half coming from snacks and sugary drinks.
Too much sugar not only leads to weight gain and obesity but also dental decay. In East Sussex, 20.3% of five-year-olds have decayed, missing or filled teeth. In West Sussex this figure is 17.5%, in Surrey 18.7%, in Medway 18.4% and in Kent 16.2%. This works out to be an average of 17.9% in the South East area.
To help fill in the gaps of people’s sugar-busting knowledge, PHE is working with dental teams from the region to promote the Change4Life public health campaign, particularly around reducing sugar. PHE has developed the Top Tips for Teeth dental toolkit to support dental teams with their advice to parents who come into their surgeries about the best ways to prevent tooth decay in children.
The most important advice is:
- reduce sugar
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- get regular dental checks from an early age
Jenny Oliver, Consultant in Dental Health for Public Health England in Kent, Sussex and Surrey, said: “It is great to have this opportunity to raise awareness of the simple, achievable things every family can do to improve dental health in children.
“It is not just childhood obesity that too much sugar leads to – there is far too much decay in those far too young. It is very sad when teeth have to be removed in children, sometimes in hospital under a general anaesthetic. Sometimes adult teeth have to be removed which will be permanent loss.”
She added: “Being sugar smart – swapping out sugar for healthier food and drink choices – is a vital step in the fight against cavities. Another is to visit the dentist regularly and we recommend parents bring their children in from the moment their teeth start coming through – so at around six months. Regular visits after that will help dental teams to work with parents to keep their children’s teeth healthy.
“A lot of our tips may seem like common sense – but by brushing up on these messages we hope to get parents and kids thinking about how to improve their dental health. It is so important to make it a priority and introduce good tooth brushing and eating habits early – after which they will hopefully last a lifetime.”
Kent County Council’s Public Health department uses surveys by Public Health England, alongside mapping of current dental health promotion activity and dental outcomes, to examine what works in terms of best practice and interventions to improve dental and oral health.
KCC Deputy Director of Public Health, Allison Duggal said: “Improving oral and dental health continues to be important for Kent as it is nationally. We support Public Health England campaigns to tackle healthy lifestyles among children such as Change4Life, Sugar Swaps and the 10 Minute shake up. We would encourage parents to consider how much sugar is in their children’s diet and cutback where necessary. We also support and advise regular dental check-ups, these should start as soon as first milk teeth appear.”
More information about Kent’s Change4Life campaign can be found at http://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/change4life
For further information about the Change4Life Snacking campaign, please contact Katya Mira at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 01403 214556/07887792736