Turning the tide on childhood decay – Justin Smith CALCIVIS

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  Posted by: The Probe      8th February 2019

Undoubtedly, dental professionals are aware that the most common reason for hospital admissions in children within England is dental decay.[1]Yet it seems that things are not improving as well as anticipated, because the latest figures from NHS Digital indicate that the number of five to nine-year olds admitted to hospital for tooth decay has now risen for the second consecutive year.[2]Children within this age group accounted for over 26,000 admissions as a result of a dental problem – more than double the number that were admitted for acute tonsillitis.2

In response to this revealing data, the Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons described the situation as ‘disappointing’ and went on to say “When you consider that tooth decay is 90 per cent preventable and NHS dental treatment is free for all under 18s, it is disgraceful that so many children in their early years of school are suffering time away from class to have teeth removed.”[3]

As well as missing valuable time away from school, children with dental decay are likely to experience pain along with difficulties eating, sleeping and socialising. Sadly, many children are embarrassed to smile or laugh due to the condition of their teeth,[4]and if a child is not able to eat properly it can compromise their dietary intake and normal development. As well as impacting on the individual, poor oral health can also affect the wellbeing of the entire family with distress, disruption and sleepless nights – not to mention parents having to take time off work to take their children to the dentist or hospital. Similarly, if children are not seen by a dentist regularly, when problems do arise they may be severe requiring extensive treatment.  Worse still, they may need a general anaesthetic, which as an introduction to dental care, could easily lead to a lifetime of dental fear or anxiety.

Unfortunately, it appears that the message to parents about the importance of their children’s oral health is still not getting through and recent research reveals some startling statistics. Over a third of parents still believe that a child’s milk teeth are less important than their adult teeth, for example. Less than half of parents supervise tooth brushing and one in ten parents would happily give their child a drink of fruit juice after brushing the teeth and before going to bed. A high proportion of parents do not know what toothpaste a child should be using, many are confused about fluoride and are unaware of protective measures such as fluoride varnish treatment for children. Additionally, 33 per cent of British adults do not realise that children are exempt from dental care costs[5]and as a consequence, millions of children are missing out on simple preventive care and treatment, which is putting their oral health at risk.[6]

Undeniably, tooth decay in childhood can seriously compromise a child’s health and wellbeing, and early life conditions also have the potential to influence long-term oral health and general health pathways.[7]Therefore, to enable children to achieve life-long benefits, the fundamentals of preventive oral health care – including effective daily cleaning, a healthy diet and the importance of regular dental checks – must be taught at an early age. To this end, national schemes and initiatives have been put in place to improve child oral health and access to dental care in England. However, it remains apparent that parents, carers and of course, children require additional support and better oral health education in order to fully understand preventive messages and to take action.

As well as reaching out into the community and continuing to promote good oral health habits at all possible junctures, dental practitioners can now enlighten both children and adults to the importance of preventive care with the help of bio-technology. The CALCIVIS®imaging system is revolutionising preventive dentistry and the management of tooth decay as we know it. This innovative device uses a specific photoprotein that produces light in the presence of free calcium ions released from actively demineralising tooth surfaces and immediately delivers a glowing map of the affected areas at the chair side. This enables practitioners to identify and visualise signs of caries and other enamel demineralisation conditions at the very earliest stages, so that preventive measures can be implemented long before complex treatment or surgical intervention is required. Crucially too, the CALCIVIS imaging system offers an engaging and effective tool for patient education, which highlights the importance of a good oral hygiene routine and promotes the benefits of regular, preventive dental care.

Technology that supports and assists early detection and the minimally invasive, preventive approach to dentistry has the potential to attract more patients, provide improved patient education and change attitudes. As more parents, carers and children begin to fully understand the importance of good oral health, it is hoped that we can turn the tide on childhood decay.

 

For more information visit www.calcivis.com, call on 0131 658 5152
or email at info@calcivis.com

 

 

 

REFERENCES

[1]Public Health England. Child oral health: applying All Our Health. Updated February 2018. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-oral-health-applying-all-our-health/child-oral-health-applying-all-our-health[Accessed 8th October 2018]

[2]NHS Digital. Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity 2017-2018 Sept 2018. https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/hospital-admitted-patient-care-activity/2017-18 [Accessed 8th October 2018]

[3]Royal College of Surgeons. Number of children aged 5 to 9 admitted to hospital due to tooth decay rises again. Sept 2018. https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/news-and-events/media-centre/press-releases/hospital-admission-tooth-decay/[Accessed 8thOctober 2018]

[4]NHS Digital. Child Dental Health Survey 2013, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Summary. https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/children-s-dental-health-survey/child-dental-health-survey-2013-england-wales-and-northern-ireland[Accessed 8th October 2018]

[5]Research by mydentist. mydentist Dental News: “Kids’ teeth time bomb as third of parents wrongly think trips to dentist hit them in pocket” https://www.mydentist.co.uk/about-us/news/2017/05/24/kids-teeth-time-bomb-as-third-of-parents-wrongly-think-trips-to-dentist-hit-them-in-pocket[Accessed 8th October 2018]

[6]Research by mydentist carried out in May 2016 among 2,000 parents in the UK put the teeth of seven million children at risk. https://www.mydentist.co.uk/big-smiles-blog/home/the-dental-blog/2016/10/18/parents-in-the-uk-put-the-teeth-of-seven-million-children-at-risk[Accessed 8th October 2018]

[7]Heilmann A. et al. A life Course Perspective on Health Trajectories and Transitions. Chapter 3. Oral health over the life course. University College London, Department ofEpidemiology and Public Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK385369/[Accessed 8th October 2018]

 


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