Clinical

Sugar causing children to lose precious teeth

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Just the thought of having a little one on the operating table is terrible, isn’t it? Yet, dentists these days complain of seeing children even younger than two years in the OT for the extraction of their baby teeth. And the cause? Sugar! Processed sugar is perhaps the worst form of poison available in the market as edible food. The worst part though is that kids are most affected by it as parents happily give it to them.

Tooth decay has become an enormous problem among children of all ages. The problem is, children from a very early age become dependent on sugar. Even if the parents try to monitor the amount of sugar their child intakes, other family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles give them sweets, chocolates and other sweetened desserts. In Pakistani society particularly, love is closely associated with food and thus expressed. Parents living in joint family systems find it very difficult to control sugar intake among their little ones as extended family tends to ‘treat’ the child with processed sugar items.

Research shows that decayed teeth removal among 5-9 year olds is becoming more and more prominent. What is even more awful is the fact that millions of rupees are spent each year on surgeries that can easily be avoided with a little care.

Another thing to understand is the lack of attention to dental care in the world, especially Pakistan. The government is completely immune to rising dental issues among children particularly. Ten years back, Scotland actively started a program system where oral health prevention was started. Childsmile was the project where daily supervised tooth brushing was mandatory in nurseries. Regular visits to dentists were also encouraged along with support to the families who couldn’t afford them. The result was clear and children all around in Scotland started having better oral hygiene.

Government needs to realize that preventing oral diseases is going to be more cost effective as compared to treating different dental conditions. What’s even more important to understand is that young children are suffering. And this needs to stop.

All children deserve perfect health, be it physical or mental. It is strongly a need that government agencies understand the impotence of persistently increasing dental concerns among children aged between 3-9. Another thing that needs to be taken notice of and subdued is the excessive marketing of sugar products specifically targeted at children.

Masses also need to be educated about the harms of processed sugars and their consumption by young children. Only this way this dire situation can be controlled. Otherwise the epidemic will continue to rise. Parents, guardians and adults are responsible for the health of children and they need to know what the child eats on a day to day basis.

Only when the leaders of nations take note and do something about this problem will there be any change. It is must that countries come together on this problem and help shutdown agencies that promote unhealthy foods and drinks. Oral health needs to be paid the attention it deserves.

April 14, 2017
Dental is part of the Medical News Group of publications which in 1968 became the pioneer of medical journalism in Pakistan. Medical News is the only periodical in Pakistan which has 3 simultaneous editions from Karachi, Islamabad and online.

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