Children embarrassed to smile because of their teeth

More than a third (35%) of children say they are embarrassed about their smile

More than a third (35%) of children say they are embarrassed about their smile according to a new survey.

The statistics come from The Children’s Dental Health (CDH) Survey 2013, which has shown 35% of 12-year-olds and 28% of 15-year-olds are embarrassed to smile or laugh due to how they felt about the condition of their teeth during the past three months.

‘In this day and age, it is simply unacceptable that, yet again, we are seeing data demonstrating marked inequalities in oral health,’ Claire Stevens, a consultant in paediatric dentistry and British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) spokesperson, said.

‘The fact that over half of 12-year-old children are reporting that problems with their teeth are affecting their daily lives is extremely saddening.’

Decay falling

The proportions of 12 and 15-year-olds with obvious decay in their adult teeth has fallen since the last time the survey was carried out in 2003.

However, tooth decay was still found in 34% of 12-year-olds (43% in 2003) and 46% of 15-year-olds (56% in 2003).

The survey also finds that around a third (31%) of five-year-olds and 46% of eight-year-olds have decay in their milk teeth.

The Children’s Dental Health (CDH) Survey 2013 is published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and provides information on the dental health of children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

‘For years we have been hearing predictions that decay is being eliminated, but these figures tell a different story,’ Stephen Fayle, also a consultant in paediatric dentistry, said.

‘Sadly, they reflect what we are seeing in hospitals and clinics across the UK.

‘We all need to work together to ensure that children suffering from toothache and their parents can access dentists with the appropriate additional skills and training when and where they need it.’

Sugar intake

The report also shows:

  • The proportions of children with tooth decay varied between England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Among five-year-olds from more deprived families, 41% had tooth decay, compared to 29% among other five-year-olds from less-deprived families. For 15-year-olds from more deprived families, the proportion with tooth decay was 59%, compared to 43% among 15-year-olds from more less-deprived families
  • Nearly two fifths (38%) of children were classed as having good overall oral health
  • Parents said that nine in 10 children of all ages attend the dentist for a regular check-up
  • Among 12-year-olds, 69% of boys and 85% of girls reported brushing their teeth at least twice a day. Among 15-year-olds, 73% of boys and 89% of girls said this
  • Among 12-year-olds, 16% said they have sugary drinks four or more times a day. Among 15-year-olds, 14% said this.

‘There can be no doubt that the high levels of decay we are seeing correlates to sugar intake, either in sweets and snacks or sugar-laden drinks, and the frequency of consumption is causing rampant decay,’ Claire continued.

‘I would urge all policy makers to put children’s dentistry at the top of their agenda.

‘We need to investigate the feasibility of introducing a nationwide programme of prevention, akin to the Childsmile programme in Scotland.

‘The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry is committed to working with all stakeholders to address these inequalities once and for all.’

You can view the full report here.

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