Raisin awareness for children’s oral health!

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  Posted by: The Probe      25th July 2021

Looking after the oral health of our children is incredibly important. Not only does good oral health encourage proper development of the adult dentition, but by ensuring children are looking after their teeth from a young age, we can also help ingrain good habits for their lifetime.

In the U,K we are currently living in what many people have labelled a child tooth decay crisis. Latest figures have suggested that childhood tooth decay costs the NHS over £40 million per year, and that nearly a quarter (23%) of children aged five years and younger have experienced dental decay across the country.[i]

Worryingly, the pandemic may have even exacerbated this problem, with many children unable to see dental professionals during the lockdown period. In some deprived areas, the rate of childhood tooth decay has doubled during the pandemic, showing that more needs to be done to keep on top of this problem.[ii]

As such, when dental nurse Jo Dawson, visited local pre-schools and schools to offer oral health education to children, she was shocked to see that these establishments were still offering children raisins and sultanas as snacks as part of the government-funded School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS). What concerned her further was that thousands of children are also allowed to bring dried fruit and other high-sugar snacks in every day.

Though there are health benefits to dried fruit, the foods have been classified as cariogenic. Not only do raisins and sultanas have high levels of sugar, but they are also sticky, meaning that when being consumed they adhere to the teeth and can easily get caught in hard to reach places, promoting decay.

Although Jo reached out to the Department of Health and Social Care and the SFVS, she was informed that it was not viable to supply children with fresh fruit with this level of regularity, and that as the dried fruit was only supplied six times per year, this was unlikely to have an impact on children’s oral health.

As dental professionals we know that even occasional eating of dried fruit may promote bad snacking habits and have an impact on oral health. So, in response, Jo Dawson has launched a new campaign called “Raisin Awareness” which aims to end the supply of dried and processed fruit snacks in primary schools. She hopes to improve the oral health of children in primary schools through better education and by linking dental practices with schools so that they can work together to achieve this goal.

This is an important initiative and taking these steps could significantly help to diminish the childhood tooth decay crisis across the UK. With more education and healthier snacking comes a better understanding of oral health at all ages, and this is something that will help protect children from avoidable tooth decay moving forwards.

So, why not get involved? If you’re interested and your practice is family friendly and interested in promoting a culture of prevention, please contact the BSDHT today to learn more!

 

 For more information about the BSDHT, please visit www.bsdht.org.uk

call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@bsdht.org.uk

 

[i] The Guardian. Children’s Tooth Decay Costs the NHS More Than £40 Million a Year in England. Link: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/aug/22/childrens-tooth-decay-costs-nhs-more-than-40m-a-year-in-england [Last accessed April 21].

[ii] BMJ Paediatrics Open. COVID-19 and the Impact on Child Dental Services in the UK. Link: https://bmjpaedsopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e000853 [Last accessed April 21].


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