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Children must take care of their primary teeth too – brushing does not fix the trouble of snacking

Posted January 18, 2018

Teeth are extremely important to us as a tool. It is important to maintain healthy teeth as long as possible. However, some of our habits are very harmful, because we hope that brushing fixes everything. But does it? Scientists now say that brushing only partially alleviates the harm done by sweet snacks in childhood.

Sweet snacks are destroying children’s teeth, even if they brush regularly. Image credit: Steven Depolo via Wikimedia(CC BY 2.0)

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow have conducted a study on children tooth decay to see if snacking is actually the factor. The study showed that children who are snacking on sweet foods entire day are facing much bigger risk of having tooth decay problems than those children who are just having meals. Many parents and, probably, children themselves are thinking that good habits can outweigh the bad ones. However, brushing teeth regularly reduced the risk just slightly – it is simply not enough to brush teeth and hope that tooth decay will not set in in children under 5.

Ok, so we are talking about children less than 5 years of age. This means that they are ruining their primary teeth. However, scientists note that the problem is not really them rotting their temporary teeth out, but forming habits. In this regard socioeconomic factors are the most important. For example, mother’s education can play a role in what life habits children learn, relating hygiene and diet.

Scientists used statistical models and survey data, collected on diet and oral hygiene from repeated observation of children from ages two to five. As you might imagine, snacking was one of the strongest factors, associated with tooth decay. However, brushing was also very important – those two year olds who brushed their teeth once per day or not at all were twice as likely to have dental decay at the age of five. And so, brushing the teeth regularly did not really outweigh snacking on candy the entire day, but not brushing teeth at all was also very bad.

And, of course, parents are to blame, because these habits are likely to continue even after permanent teeth start growing. Dr Valeria Skafida, one of the authors of the study, said: “Even with targeted policies that specifically aim to reduce inequalities in children’s dental decay it remains an ongoing challenge to reduce social patterning in dental health outcomes”.

And so, what can be done? Not much, essentially. But some information campaigns could be created and parents should pay more attention to educating their children about results of bad hygiene and diet.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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