I've wrecked my children's teeth with five-a-day 'healthy' snacks: Mother believes parents have been misled about what to feed their kids
- Matilda Fraser from Bristol is nine years old but already has six fillings
- Her mother says it is because of snacks such as dried fruit and smoothies
- Believes many parents have been misled about what children should eat
- Dental decay is main reason children aged 5 to 9 are admitted to hospital
Having six fillings is nothing to be proud of, especially in an age where dental care is so advanced that experts say we should be able to keep perfect teeth for life. So spare a thought for Matilda Fraser, who has already notched up this number of fillings by the age of nine.
And according to Matilda’s mother, Victoria, the reason for her tooth decay is not a diet of cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks, but ‘five-a-day’ snacks such as dried fruit and smoothies.
Victoria, a 43-year-old project manager from Bristol, is understandably sheepish about the situation. She knows that she and her advertising executive husband Patrick ‘should have known better than to let things get so bad’.
Then, two years ago, Matilda needed a filling. ‘I burst into tears. I felt so guilty,’ Victoria says.
Matilda went on to have another filling at each of her next three six-monthly check-ups, and Harry soon joined her under the drill. Now aged 11, he has four fillings – two in his adult teeth.
The Fraser children are far from alone. According to the British Dental Association, dental decay is the number one reason children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital in England, with the NHS spending £30 million on hospital-based tooth extractions in 2012.
Shocking new research from dentistry chain Oasis Dental Care, published earlier this month, shows that a third of children have fillings by the time they are five, a quarter need at least one crown, and a third need gum-disease treatment.
There are two ways in which high-sugar foods damage teeth. First is acid erosion, when teeth are exposed to acidic foods such as fruit (including dried) and juice. If the exposure to acid is too frequent, caused by snacking, the enamel begins to soften. If teeth are brushed within 30 minutes of acid exposure, the softened enamel can be scrubbed off.
‘Children’s milk teeth have thinner and softer enamel so are particularly at risk,’ says Eddie Coyle, an Oasis Dental Care dentist.
The second major threat is sugar. ‘Bacteria that live in the mouth feed off sugars and excrete an acid that attacks enamel in a similar way to acid erosion,’ Coyle says. Even if it’s only the milk teeth that are affected, it can still lead to long-term problems, as removal risks adult teeth growing into unnatural positions.
Victoria has now banned fruit juice, dried fruit and smoothies, and while the Frasers still let their children eat fruit, they only do so at mealtimes – never as a snack.
‘We’ve also bought them electric toothbrushes with a two-minute timer and they never brush their teeth straight after meals when the enamel has been softened,’ she adds.
Matilda had her last filling just over nine months ago, and her latest check-up did not show the need for any more dental work........................