Tooth decay used to be most common among adults, but this is no longer the case. Now, dentists are approaching the global epidemic of adolescent tooth decay with a sense of urgency as more children suffer from the condition than ever before.
According to the UK publication Counsel and Heal, children aged 10 and under have been increasingly diagnosed with tooth decay and other serious dental issues over the past decade. Since 2011, more than 128,000 cases of adolescent tooth decay have been reported in the UK.
Even worse, research from the Health and Social Care Information Center found that over 14,000 cases of tooth decay among children under five years of age were reported from April 2014 to March 2015.
Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, believes the 9.8% overall increase of tooth decay in UK children is “unacceptable.”
“Not only is tooth decay distressing to children and parents, it has serious social and financial implications,” Hunt said. “The need for tooth extraction continues to be the number one reason why five to nine-year-old children are admitted to hospital. This issue urgently needs to be addressed, especially since 90% of tooth decay is preventable.”
About 74% of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt their career success, and many of these dental issues could have potentially been avoided with early intervention and treatment. While Americans would like to think that this crisis is limited to the the UK, it’s also extremely prevalent in the U.S.
As the Portland Tribune recently reported, Oregon’s annual Smile Survey in 2002 found that more than half of the state’s first, second, and third-graders suffered from untreated tooth decay. In 2007, the Smile Survey revealed a staggering 50% increase in tooth decay among local children in this age group.
Australian children have also been experiencing a dramatic increase in tooth decay for the past decade. As Easter approaches, Australian dentists have been urging parents to cut down on the amount of chocolate they give to their kids, according to the Fairfield City Champion.
“Over Easter, it’s important to strike a balance between enjoying sweet treats and long-term oral health for both adults and children,” said Ravi Srinivas, associate professor at the South Western Sydney Local Health District.
While there is no immediate end in sight to the global tooth decay epidemic among children, it’s certainly promising to see so many dentists take a stand against this oral health crisis.