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According to the British Dental Journal nearly 30,000 children a year attend hospital for tooth extraction due to tooth decay. Children from impoverished areas were the most susceptible to having poor dental care compared to their more affluent counterparts. Detailed research data revealed between 1997 and 2006 there were 517,885 individual courses of dental treatment in NHS hospitals for children up to the age of 17 years old. Dental visit admissions involved 80 percent of children requiring tooth extraction all because of tooth decay.

So thus begins the discussion of who should be responsible for a child’s dental care. The easy answer is that it’s a parental responsibility. But recently, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence of England suggested that schools ought to step in to tackle the growing trend of tooth decay amongst children. This brings up the broader and more local question - should Surrey Schools and the Ministry of Education step up to the plate on youth dental education?

Child Dental Problems

surrey school children dental issuesChildren should be checked as young as 18 months for early signs of childhood tooth decay. Unrestricted diets full of refined sugars has led to an epidemic in childhood dental diseases. The most common signs of tooth decay are the appearance of dark spots on the teeth. Discoloration of teeth is the first major sign of tooth decay. Parents should also be aware of dull white spots on the teeth. The next sign parents should be on the lookout for is the appearance of the gum tissue.

Gum disease can be present in children as young as toddlers. This common oral disease begins with the appearance of hard and soft deposits on the teeth, left over from inadequate brushing. Over an undisclosed period of time a bacteria builds up called plaque. The plaque collects at the gum line and eventually hardens into a calcium deposit called tartar. The calcium deposit tartar is identified by its unsightly brown or yellow colour it leaves on the teeth.

Poor oral care leads to inflammation of the gums called gingivitis, which can penetrate below the gum line. If immediate intervention by a dental specialist is not performed the bacteria can infect the underlying bone. Periodontal disease is usually associated with adults but this disease doesn’t discriminate based on age. Aggressive forms of periodontal disease can affect children putting them at risk for destruction of supportive periodontal tissue in the oral cavity. Additional signs of gum disease are red and swollen gums. Parents with children that experience bleeding gums when they brush or floss their teeth should consult a dentist immediately. One of the easiest signs to detect tooth decay and possible gum disease would be children who have chronic halitosis or bad breath.

Fluoride and Dental Health

Fluoride has long been advocated by the dental community as a method to combat tooth decay in the general population. People are usually confused as to the difference between fluoride and fluorine. The element fluorine is an element, fluoride is a compound that contains the fluoride ion in it.

“It is a tragedy that social class remains such an accurate predictor of oral health. Water fluoridation, as the long-standing scheme in the West Midlands illustrates, has great potential to address this divide.”- Peter Bateman, chairman of the British Dental Association’s dental committee.

The American Dental Association (ADA) has long been an advocate of water fluoridation. Today dentists use fluoride in the form of gels and varnishes.

A Few Reasons to Fluoridate:

Prevention Is Better Than The Cure

An old proverb goes something like this, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Applying simple common sense steps like ensuring your child brushes and flosses their teeth in the morning and after every meal will save you time and money.  The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) was launched in 2007 and in 2010 Health Canada released a report based on income level and dental care visits.

The study revealed the following details:

The good news is that tooth decay and gum disease are easily preventable. A regular dental care regimen in addition to regular dental check ups are all that is necessary for your child’s oral health.

Recommendation 1

Avoid all energy drinks and carbonated beverages made with high fructose corn syrup.

Recommendation 2

Decrease or eliminate milk chocolate and pastries. Substitute with natural dark chocolate or desserts made with natural sweeteners like stevia instead of refined white sugar.

Recommendation 3

Instead of drinking juice made from concentrate substitute with real juice made from a juice machine. Substitute by juicing green smoothies sweetened with blueberries and frozen bananas. The sugars that are naturally contained in fruits are less corrosive to the teeth compared to the refined and GMO sweeteners found in many store bought items.

Recommendation 4

Drink water as much as possible. Tooth decay issues in children were not as prevalent in the past compared to this present fast food generation. When all else fails go back to eating and drinking natural.

Does The Responsibility Remain with Parents or Extend to Surrey Schools?

Should Surrey Schools check whether kids have brushed their teeth? Let us examine this argument from a common sense and financial standpoint. We have already outlined how simple it is for conscientious parents to safeguard their children against tooth decay. Both tooth decay and gum disease among children are health issues that can be prevented.

Who should determine if children in the school system have adequately brushed their teeth? Should the school board hire an oncall dental hygienist for every school? According to PayScale a dental hygienist earns on average $35.13 per hour. Where would the funds come from for a Surrey Schools dental health care program? In addition to funding dental care check ups for children, what would be the follow up for children who were found to have cavities and other dental issues? Additional funds would have to be allocated by Surrey Schools and the Ministry of Education to deal with cavities and gum disease.

There’s no question that this is an investment that could be well worth it. Proper dental care and dental education is extremely important at a young age and is in the best interests of the Surrey School District. At the same time, you can see the question of if Surrey Schools should be responsible for students dental health, leads to more questions. The simple course of action is to instill in children from a young age the benefits of regular brushing and the benefits of oral health. If the parents aren’t doing it, perhaps the schools should help.

About Dr. Michael Layton

Dr. Michael Layton - South Surrey DentistDr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions and experiences for people of all ages in the South Surrey/White Rock area. You can follow him on Google+.

Most children refuse to brush their teeth on a regular basis. Trying to get a child at night to settle down is one thing let alone getting him or her to brush their pearly whites. Any parent will testify to the fact that you can not deal with children from the left brained perspective. Reasoning with a child using pure logic is a sure recipe for failure as any parent will tell you. To get a child to do what you want you have to appeal to their emotions. To get a child to take care of their teeth, you have to make the process fun.

In terms of dental health for children, it’s never too early to begin a daily program for taking care of that beautiful smile. With today’s western diet tooth decay is of paramount importance for any parent concerned with child dental health.

Bacteria found in plaque can result in Early Childhood Tooth Decay. Early Childhood Tooth Decay (ECTD) affects baby teeth, caused by food particles left in the mouth. Most processed food in today’s society contains refined sugars, contributing to the prevalence of tooth decay in children. The bacteria in plaque erodes the enamel on the teeth. Your child’s diet is the first step in eliminating the possibility of future tooth decay.

Here are 9 ways you can actionably take to make sure your kids maintain that bright smile they’ve always had.

1. Routine

Like everything in life the key to success is a daily routine. Performing a certain act for 30 days in a row usually results in the act becoming a habit. The foundation for establishing optimal dental hygiene is best accomplished early in life. Incorporating dental care before putting your child to bed at the same time every night can be included as a nightly regimen. The first five years of a child’s life lays the foundation for the rest of their lives. If a child learns early to brush their teeth after every major meal they will continue to do so into their adolescent and adult years.

2. Dissolving Agent to Show Plaque

There are many ways to make dental care fun for kids today. Children are visual creatures and this is one reason why showing children the plaque on their teeth using special tablets is so effective. After your child finishes brushing have them rinse with their mouth with fresh water. Place a plaque dissolving tablet on the tongue and let the mouth’s saliva dissolve for 30 to 60 seconds. After your child spits out the mixture any plaque on the teeth will be revealed as a bright colour. Many kids get a kick out of actually seeing the plaque visible on their teeth. Have your child brush a second time time to remove the plaque that remains in the mouth. Plaque disclosing tablets can be purchased at Oral B or online at or any retailer that sells dental products.

3. Sing a Song While Brushing Teeth

Young children learn best through musical melodies and lyrics that rhyme. Teaching children the alphabet phonetically is the best way to teach children in a fun easy way. I call phonetic learning 3D learning, children learn best through action. Combining the nightly routine of teeth brushing along with your child’s favourite sing song will aid the parent in oral care. Numerous teeth brushing songs can be found on YouTube and the internet.

4. Kid Flavoured Organic Toothpaste

Children usually have sensitive gums and teeth it is for this reason I recommend an organic toothpaste. Jack n’ Jill is one such manufacture that specializes in organic toothpaste made with calendula. The Calendula Officinalis Extract has natural anti inflammatory properties that are great for oral health. Tom’s of Maine makes fluoride free toothpaste in a delicious strawberry flavour. I have personally used this toothpaste on a number of occasions and I can attest to its addictive flavour. Tom’s of Maine uses all natural ingredients in their products that is mild and gentle.

5. Brushing Teeth Together

Young children often imitate older children or their parents instinctively. Why not brush your teeth with your child at night? You can purchase a little stool for your child in their favourite colour. Make it a nightly ritual before putting your child to bed is also a good way to bond with your mini-me.

6. Reward for Brushing Teeth

Giving your child a reward for maintaining their oral health can be kept track using a calendar. For example, if your child diligently brushes their teeth seven days in a row without being told you can let them pick their favourite animated feature for movie night.

7. Sugarless Confectionary

The market for sugar free candy or confectionery is slowly growing. More and more people who want to avoid dental decay have more options than ever before when it comes to fulfilling their sweettooth. Some sugarless candy manufacturers substitute sugar with agave. Large companies like Hershey’s, Twizzlers and Werther’s have seen the light and have jumped on the bandwagon. For those people who are raising children vegan they even have organic and vegan candy for sale. Check out the Natural Candy Store a 100 percent natural candy company that sells directly online.

8. Eat Sweet Fruit

Pineapples, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are sweet and they taste great. Fresh fruit is cleansing and the fruits I mentioned rank high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. Health conscious parents should be aware there is a high sugar content in some fruits. Oral health should still be maintained regardless if eating sugar free candy or fruit.

9. Consider Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment and orthodontic surgery are options to help maintain the incredible smile your kids have enjoyed for their early years. Don’t let tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area affect your

There you have it there are no excuses for children today getting cavities. Teaching kids to brush their teeth can be a fun activity instead of the chore it used to be.


You want to keep your teeth healthy - but are you doing everything in your power to keep them healthy forever? Healthy teeth and gums are important for every member of your family, but unless everyone is practicing good dental hygiene, eating a healthy diet and seeing a dentist regularly, those pearly whites may not last a lifetime. According to Web MD, there are some things that you can do to keep your teeth healthy and strong regardless of your age.

Begin Educating Your Kids About Teeth Health At An Early Age

Start educating kids at an early age about teeth health

Start your kids off on the right track and schedule the first dental appointment when the first baby tooth erupts. This is usually around the age of six months. You can wipe your baby’s teeth with a soft baby toothbrush, or a damp cloth. Once your kids reach the age of two, your children can begin to brush their teeth themselves as long as you supervise and show them the proper way to brush. Schedule an appointment with your family dentist for more brushing techniques for your kids and keep pacifier use to a minimum. Developing smart dental habits when your kids are young will help prevent tooth decay and keep their teeth healthy for years to come. An astonishing one out of four children will develop dental caries before they even start school. Half of all kids aged twelve to fifteen have cavities.

Dental Sealants

Permanent molars usually come in about the age of six. Talk to your dentist about dental sealants that can help prevent tooth decay on the surfaces of the back teeth. Dental sealants can also be used for adults on teeth that have not been restored. Dental sealants can help when it comes to tooth decay as they act as a barrier keeping out food particles.

Brushing and flossing do help, but because of the deep depressions in the premolars and molars, it is difficult to remove the food particles that will eventually cause tooth decay. Dental sealants are applied to the premolars and molars effectively sealing out the food and plaque, which will help keep your teeth healthy (until you need your sealants reapplied).

Dental sealants are easily applied by your family dentist and can usually be taken care of in one dental appointment. Your dentist will paint a plastic resin on to the back teeth that will protect the enamel from bacteria, acids, and plaque. As long as the dental sealants are intact, the surface of the tooth will be protected from dental caries. Dental sealants can last for years before reapplication is required.

Home Remedies To Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Of course, it is imperative that you brush twice and floss once a day to keep your teeth healthy. Gum disease and tooth decay are huge problems, but people of all ages get cavities. Three quarters of the teenage population suffer from bleeding gums and tooth decay. Your dentist recommends that you change your toothbrush four times a year. If anyone in your family wears braces, make sure that you talk to your dentist about special toothbrushes that are used for people who wear dental appliances. People with arthritis can place a foam grip over the handle or use an electric toothbrush to make brushing easier. A simple addition like this can help keep your teeth healthy for a long time because if the simple act of brushing your teeth is difficult, anything that makes it easier will only benefit you in the long run.Keep your teeth healthy as a family

Use fluoride, but not too much. Fluoride may be in the water you drink (depending on where you live) and helps strengthen the enamel on your teeth making tooth decay less likely to occur. 96% of British Columbians do not have access to fluoridated water in their communities. Your dentist may also recommend toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride because it can help you keep your teeth healthy. But be cautious when it comes to kids and fluoride use as it can cause white spots and damage permanent teeth.


Be sure and rinse your mouth after every meal. Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste handy and talk to your dentist about an antibacterial rinse that can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Sugar free gum can also help if chewed after a meal as it helps to increase the flow of saliva. Chewing helps wash away the bacteria naturally while neutralizing the acid.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy With A Healthy Diet

Watch what you eat as certain foods can cause problems with your teeth and gums. Red wine, coffee, and tea will stain your teeth while sticky foods such as dried fruit and chewy caramels can stick to your teeth converting to bacteria before turning into plaque and tartar. If you must indulge in starchy foods such as pretzels, potato chips and French fries rinse immediately after as these types of foods will be caught between your teeth quickly turning into bacteria. Keep your teeth healthy by eating the right foods.

Visit your dentist regularly and if you are having issues with your teeth make an appointment immediately. The longer you put it off, the more problems you will have with your teeth and gums. The sooner you see your dentist, the faster they'll be able to put you on a plan to keep your teeth healthy for life.

About Dr. Michael Layton

Dr. Michael Layton - Family Dentist in White Rock/SouthSurreyDr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in helping patients keep their teeth healthy. You can follow him on Google+.

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