Majority of you will most probably will not be a great fan of your dentist and be too excited about attending dental appointments. Unfortunately, in most cases this means you are more likely to suffer from major oral problems and end up needing extensive and expensive treatments. Those of you who keep up their 6-month dental check-up will probably have hardly any oral problems and if in any case you do, it does get treated very early on. It is a sad fact that a large percentage of the population does not have a dentist or has been to one for several years if at all. For many years I have been making every attempt to make people more aware of oral health and importance of the cleaning teeth and mouth. The best way to ensure that you have healthy teeth is to have a good relationship with your dentist. Dentists are amongst the top ten most hated people on earth (for some strange bizarre reason) and why is this? Because by avoiding the dentist you end up having to go in as an emergency to have painful procedures done, (not that it hurts you wimps). It’s a catch 22 situation; you run away from the dentist and then when your tooth hurts (which notoriously is the second worse pain after childbirth apparently) you end up running to the dentist! Ironically! What really is sad to see is that children who have hardly ever been to the dentist are frightened. Who is responsible for this?
Having established that 6-month check-ups are vital, what do we do about the fact that you don’t actually like your dentist? The solution is simple – find another one. Of course, your dentist’s attitude and service plays a big part in how regular your dental visits are. I have been a dentist both in UK and Sweden for over twenty years and it is our mission to exceed expectations by providing exceptional dental care to our patients and build relationship on honesty, trust and comfort. I believe in empowering people and thus our emphasis will be placed on educating our patients so they are empowered to make knowledgeable decisions concerning their oral health and treatment options.
Lately the media has discussed children’s eating habits and the outlook does not seem so great. Our children are being fed junk, literally. The processed food contains excessive amounts of sugar in order to make it taste more pleasant and desirable for children. What is the harm? That is what I would like to discuss this week, the subject of excessive sugar intake in children.
One of the biggest mistakes that nearly all parents seem to make is bribe a child to be quiet with sweets and chocolates. If milk teeth aren’t taken care of from the moment they appear then decay will be inevitable. If every time your child is restless or naughty you keep them busy and quiet with sweets then their teeth will decay and even though milk teeth fall out to be replaced by permanent ones the decay in milk teeth will spread to their permanent teeth. Parents determine their children’s eating habits and so if every time your child is upset or restless you give them sweets they are going to get used to it and demand the same treatment each time.
The intake of sugary foods and sweets should be avoided. Children under 5 should have a nutritious diet that includes 4 main nutrition components. Carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta, vegetables and fruits. Calcium and protein such as milk, meat, fish and other alternatives. Apart from these they do not require such junk as chocolates, biscuits, sweets and crisps etc. These ‘junk’ foods may be added to meals or after meals on some occasions so long as it is not too regular. At this point I would like to mark the importance of regular MEAL TIMES. If you feed your child on regular intervals at approximately the same times every day then this will mean that they are well fed and this will cut out the need for snacking during the day. Teeth and gums need to rest also and we must keep the mouth empty for some periods of time to allow the saliva carry out its natural job of cleansing the mouth and maintaining the natural equilibrium of the acid and bacteria in the mouth. If you are not convinced they will learn not to snack then the other resolution is to replace chocolates, sweets etc with other healthier alternatives such as sugar free biscuits, fruits or even popcorn.
In Sweden, Saturdays are declared as desert and sweet days which is the only time children are given treats. In other words, unlike what I have witnessed with most children here in UK, they don’t walk around holding and eating sweets, chocolates and crisps all day long. You could also perhaps determine a sweet and desert day once a week and only give your children sweet treats on this day. Apart from this you should also limit fizzy drinks and natural fruit juices as these cause teeth to dissolve. You should always read the nutrition information on the back of foods and take special care to note that sugar could be written in many formats such as; glucose, honey, dextrose, maltose.
The safest drink in oral health aspect is milk or water. Fruit juices could be an occasional alternative as long as it is at meal times. Sugary tea, coffee and coke should also be only permitted at meal times. Don’t forget healthy teeth mean brighter smile and a brighter smile means confidence to smile. As a parent it is part of your parental responsibility to ensure you teach your child healthy habits.
Having established last week that it is not recommended to allow children to have an excessive sugar intake. This week I would like to move on and along and look into different types of diabetes and its causes. There are two different types of diabetes. The first type is commonly seen amongst the younger generation – Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. This is when the immune system does not produce any hormones that produce insulin. When eating, these hormones usually kick into action in order to absorb the sugar from the blood, but because there is no insulin in the body therefore it cannot perform its function. It cannot be explained why this occurs but there are some suggestions as to what the causes are.
The other type of diabetes is the one seen amongst the older generation – Type 2 diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. This type of diabetes is when the blood rejects the insulin in the body or when the insulin levels are far too low. This illness is either genetic or is common and tends to affect adults over 40 and overweight people, although it is now becoming commoner amongst younger people. Type 2 diabetes occurs more frequently in people of South Asian and African-Caribbean descent.
Diabetes in children is fast becoming common spread. The trigger for this is excessive calorie and sugar intake. At the same time, it causes the child to overgrow and develop too early and at a fast pace.
Professor Dr Gisela Dahguistin, from the Umea University carried out an experiment involving 100000 children with diabetes. Her research involved children from the 0-14 age range in 1983, 19991 and 1992 to 2000. Her finding were that; 0-4 year olds had a 40%, 5 to 10 year olds had a 21% and 10-14 year olds had a 14% increase in the case of diabetes. According to another piece of research in-between 1978 and 2002 diabetes amongst children increased by 50%. Currently over 3 million people in the UK have with diabetes.
These statistics are interesting but sad to see. With the junk food and fast food trade increasingly becoming widespread and popular this correlates with the increase of a sugar intake affected illness. The last 30 years has seen a threefold increase in the number of cases of childhood diabetes.
This is especially worrying in respect of the rising numbers of children and teenagers with Type 2 diabetes, which was once only seen in older people. This trend is likely to reflect the rising obesity levels in young people over the same time period.
This means that children 5 years old and under will have to use insulin injections and this will have to continue until the rest of their lives. One of the biggest causes of this increased sugar intake is the baby food that is loaded with sugars. This overloading of energy then causes diabetes. In this case as a parent your duty is to make every attempt to feed your children and babies homemade food with natural products. Prevention is better than a cure which sadly does not even exist at the moment. Children are gems so we must take good care of them. Take good care of yourself and family.