Donations of toothbrushes wanted to combat child tooth decay
Nationally, record numbers of children are having rotten teeth extracted, as a result of consuming three times more sugar than recommended.
Figures for Rotherham are even higher than the national average, with nearly one in three children aged five having experienced tooth decay.
Dentist Steve Thompson, chair of Rotherham Local Dental Committee, said: “It is frustrating having to send very young children for general anaesthetics in order to have their teeth extracted.
“One of the reasons for this is because parents are leaving it too late to bring their children to the dentist for their first check-up.
“I would urge parents to bring their children in before the age of one, as then we can then teach them about how to brush their child’s teeth when they appear, with fluoride toothpaste, and give advice on diet and what causes tooth decay.”
As part of National Smile Month, which began last week, Rotherham Borough Council is asking residents to donate fluoride toothpaste and brushes to foodbanks, to help reverse the rot.
The authority is also working with children’s centres, alongside the Rotherham Foundation Trust 0-19 Integrated Public Health Nursing Service, to promote dental hygiene.
Cllr David Roche, the council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “Children are not born with rotten and decaying teeth — this comes as a result of lifestyle choices.
“It is of concern that such high numbers of children are having teeth extracted due to tooth decay, given that it is entirely preventable.
“It is costly not only for the NHS, but it also has a high impact on families.”
He added: “Treatment under general anaesthetic can be a traumatic experience for the child and their carers, carries a risk of life-threatening complications and is disruptive in terms of time taken off school and work.
“We need to act now so we can help reverse these worrying statistics so future generations can have healthy sets of teeth.
“It is important that people are encouraged to look after their health, including the health of their teeth.
“However, we know for some families it can be a struggle to be able to afford even basics like toothbrushes and toothpaste.”
Donations of toothpaste and brushes can be dropped off at council headquarters Riverside House and children’s centres, as well as foodbanks.
National Smile Month runs from May 14 to June 14 — activities and information will be on offer from all children’s centres across the borough. Visit www.rotherham.gov.uk/childrenscentres to find a local children’s centre.