Caring for the dental health of your newborn infant and young children, things you can do and things you should avoid tooth decay.
NHS oral health care survey in England
Public Health England conducted a national dental health survey in 2015. The survey was conducted on 5 year old children living in England.
The survey highlighted 25% of 5 year old children had experienced tooth decay, with an average of 3 or 4 teeth being affected and the majority untreated.
The North West of England saw the rate of tooth decay in children at 13% higher than in the South East of England. The highest rate of tooth decay recorded was found in Blackburn and Darwen where 56% of children aged 5 have tooth decay.
The sixth most common child hospital procedure and the most common reason for hospital admission of children between 5 to 9 years old was tooth extraction.
Child dental health facts
- Each child missed on average 3 days of school due to dental problems
- 38% of children had sleepless nights due to dental pain
- 26% of children who had teeth extracted missed days at school
- The average cost to the NHS for each child seen in hospital for tooth extraction was £836.00
- The total cost a year to the NHS for tooth extractions of children under 5 was £7.8m
Advice for dental health for infants
- Breast milk is the only food or drink babies need for around the first 6 months of their life. First formula milk is the only suitable alternative to breast milk
- Bottle-fed babies should be introduced to drinking from a free-flow cup from the age of 6 months and bottle feeding should be discouraged from 12 months old
- Only breast or formula milk or cooled, boiled water should be given in bottles
- Only milk or water should be drunk between meals and adding sugar to foods or drinks should be avoided
Advice for dental health for young children
- Reduce the quantity and frequency of foods and drinks that contain sugar, only give sweet foods and dried fruit at mealtimes
- Squashes sweetened with sugar, fizzy drinks, soft drinks and juice drinks have no place in a child’s daily diet
- Limit the amount of fruit juice and smoothies your child drinks to a maximum of 150 ml (1 portion) in total per day and drink it with meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay
- Always ask for sugar-free medicines
Remember to visit the dentist on a regular basis, every 6 months or sooner if advised by a dentist. Infants straight after birth or within the first 6 months should be registered with a dentist.
You can find out more about healthy eating and diet: