Tooth decay in Toddlers. Who should take the blame? By Barnaby Wright

30th September 2014
Tooth decay in Toddlers. Who should take the blame? By Barnaby Wright

Hardly a day goes by without yet another "parent bashing" news story hitting the headlines. It could be a lack of breast feeding, teeth brushing, reading, exercise, sleep - or too much of something, namely, sugar, fat, screen time. The list is endless.

Today was no exception with teeth on the agenda. Admittedly, it's pretty shocking to hear that three year olds are suffering from tooth decay. You would think that their pearly whites had barely been in their heads long enough to suffer from decay. But apparently they have.

Radio 5 Live listeners were their usual compassionate souls, with calls for children with tooth decay to be taken into care and their parents labelled abusers. If you regularly listen to Radio 5 Live you learn to ignore these callers whose lives are supposedly perfect as they speed past the local primary school doing 50mph on their way home to their partners after five minutes of passion with the childhood sweetheart that they reconnected with on Facebook (don't get me started!).

Back to teeth, what's the answer? More brushing? Less sugar? Of course the answer is both. But where does the responsibility lie? With parents? With food producers? With government? Again, it's got to be all three.

It's easy to blame parents but some parents were not brought up regularly brushing their teeth. I hear the Radio 5 Live listener saying that everyone should know how to brush their teeth, eat properly etc etc as they ease their overweight backside out of their car having parked on the double yellows to buy their third extra-large double cappuccino and blueberry muffin of the day.

No they don't. If you've never been taught, you don't know how to do something. So this is where the government comes in. Education is key. Proper education campaigns work. Drip feed the population information and it learns. Something will eventually stick.

Now for the food industry. This is where we should be aiming both barrels. The amount of sugar added to foods and drinks is completely unacceptable. They know this and they do little or nothing about it. Their shareholders (that might be you) wouldn't like it as profits would be hit.

We need to wean our taste buds off sweet things and get used to eating less sugar. In this country our battle has been with fat. But sugar is the real enemy. The food industry has been forever reducing fat in foods and replacing it with... sugar (or sweeteners). You're better off eating a full fat natural yoghurt with fresh fruit than a low-fat character-branded yoghurt, or even most breakfast cereals.

Reduce fizzy drinks, and that includes the "diet" ones. They contain artificial sweeteners that mess with your brain and trick your body into doing things it shouldn't. The new fangled fruit juices on the market should also be treated with caution. Simply replace with water at mealtimes.

I'm not radical but even I'm coming round to the idea that we should boycott certain foods and drinks. This might be the only way to get the industry to rethink the amount of sugar that they add to their products. The food industry is where the real battle starts. Let's all get it to start taking responsibility.

Now I'm off to phone Radio 5 Live whilst overtaking on double whites lines! But not before a shameless plug for our personalised Tooth Fairy letter, sales of which should benefit from all this tooth decay in young children. You'll be pleased to hear that the Itsyourstory tooth fairy extols the benefits of regular brushing.


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