Sunday, 29 August 2010

Something to Chew Over

One third of Glasgow's most deprived three-year-olds have tooth decay, a new study has claimed. The University of Glasgow's Dental School noted that, on average, the poorest children had one-and-a-half teeth which had been filled, were decaying or missing. In comparison, the researchers found that the least deprived were missing a third of a tooth on average.

Researchers used the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which uses factors like income, housing, education and employment, to assess the level of deprivation for each child.

There is no reason is today's society, for any child, from any background, to have excessive tooth decay. Sixty years ago I lived in what would be called a 'deprived area' today, yet I'm not aware dental decay was any more prevalent than it was in the posher parts of the city. I can speak with a little knowledge because my dentist was my godfather and his wife, my godmother, who was what would now be called the practice manager. No fancy toothpastes then, only a dentist who insisted teeth were brushed three times a day. The school dentist and nurse regularly checked us wee ones to ensure we were obeying orders. School dental checks increased once sweeties came off ration as it was known sugar caused dental decay. A letter was sent to the parents from the school dentist if he wasn't satisfied. That was enough to shake the most indolent parent into action.

Therefore, although I'm not questioning these findings, I am saying money has nothing to do with children's teeth. Parenting has everything to do with it and money can't buy good parenting. Some people will never make good parents.

Are there things such as school dentists these days? If not, surely it's not too difficult for any primary teacher to give regular instruction to wee ones on how to clean their teeth. Manufacturers of dental goods are always happy to give freebies in the hope that as children grow they will prefer their products. I few 'horror' videos would help relay the message.

Wouldn't it be far more beneficial for schools to spend more curriculum time on oral and physical hygiene rather than sex education - or as I'm told 'relationships'? Sex can wear thin with the years - rather like some people's hair- but having your own teeth is a lifelong valuable asset and our children must learn that. When I was a child there was no preventative oral health care. If a filling didn't 'work' then it was an extraction.

Continually providing children with sugar-filled fizzy drinks doesn't only happen in less well off families. So why are children from that society class so effected? The only reason I can see is bad parenting.

It's little or nothing to do with money. If it was children from wealthy backgrounds wouldn't have any tooth decay whatsoever.


cynicalHighlander said...

I don't know as if its fair to blame poor parenting rather the blame should be directed at the manufacturers and there marketing. Lets face it children watch telly and go shopping with parents and are bombarded by advertising as if the latest sweetie is cool. Fag advertising is banned why not ban sweetie advertising, sauce a geese comes to mind.

subrosa said...

CynicalHighlander. It's a good few years now since my own family were young but marketing went on back in the 80s as much as it does now.

It's much harder work saying NO and explaining why but, and I was no super-duper parent believe me, explaining and creating treats worked. They never were 'deprived' but they understood what a treat was.

What's a treat to some children these days? A visit to McDonald's twice a day?

You don't need money to ensure your children's teeth are cleaned. That's my point.

RantinRab said...

I've been fizzing over this all weekend.

Expect a sweary post tomorrow sometime!

Alex Porter said...

I think money and bad parenting are connected.

There is a lot more debt now than there was in the 80s. Consequently people are more stressed. On top of that, if you're in debt you don't want to invest in the future of your physical health as your priority is paying the debt by buying the cheapest possible garbage to feed your kids with.

The growth of government has meant people are losing the ability to think for themselves. That is making people stupid.They sit around wondering why the government hasn't improved their lives for them.

Meanwhile since the 80's even more local communities have been destroyed as supermarkets have moved in. This has made things a lot worse - impoverishing farmers and local people at the same time.

Too much availability of credit caused by cheap money has created a stupid consumer who buys the cheapest disposable rubbish on the market.

A return to sound money and credit will generate a healthy respect for money once more. People will begin to invest rather than squander. That means intelligent decisions about lifestyle, health, education etc.

The consumer society is over. I think we're about to see the return of family saving and investing. Who said that the depression would not have positive consequences?

Apogee said...

Hi Alex. Interesting points,but next time you buy food, look at what is in it. You might be shocked at some of the ingredients,check what the names really really are. As well as dental decay, you might find some of the causes of obesity.And while you are at it, check the labels on the shower gel and hair shampoo, that should frighten you.

subrosa said...

Indeed they may be connected Alex, but I'm weary hearing 'experts' blaming poorer families for most things. As I say, if it was all down to money, where children's teeth are concerned, the wealthy's children would all have a perfect set wouldn't they?

I'd prefer to say that the dumbing down of basic education (not academic) has more to do with it. Today's agenda doesn't concentrate on getting through to the wee ones that health is what keeps us alive and we're each responsible for our own. they seem more concerned with some of today's stranger social values.

subrosa said...

Apogee, when the supermarket is quiet I sometimes have a look at labels. That's why I use Imperial Leather and nothing else. Who wants to cover themselves in chemicals each time they shower?

subrosa said...

Rab, remember to post the link in comments. Look forward to it.

Gedguy said...

When I was born in the 50s and brought up in Dundee I remember the dentist used to visit us primary children in the school. I was even gassed, in school, and had a tooth extracted. I remember waking up and telling the dentist that I was in 'Supercar' with, I think, Steve Zodiac or was it Mike Mercury.
The Scottish children have a history of bad teeth but I suspect that is mostly down to the diet. It should be kept in mind that, especially in the poorer backgrounds where I emerged from, a sugary treat was a 'piece and jam' and when the jam ran out at the end of the berry picking season then a 'piece and sugar' was on the menu, especially if it was the 'heelie'. I don't know about you but I can't remember having my own toothbrush until after I left school; my mother just couldn't afford to supply her seven kids with individual toothbrushes. It was years later that I learnt that my father, who was nearly always in work, gave just over half his wages to his wife because "If I gave her any more then she would just spend it." How my mother used to manage I don't know. I suppose that she wasn't the only one in our area who was in hock to the local corner shop each week.
It should also be kept in mind that in those days, not long after the war when we were still paying off the national debt to the Americans for 'lease lend', there wasn't much money around and everything was relatively much more expensive, even toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Nowadays, when we have 'Pound shops' and supermarkets there is really no excuse for not supplying your kids with the proper implements, paste and education for the protection of their children's teeth. Therefore I have to back Subrosa's conjecture that it is down to the parents to ensure the healthy state of their children's oral hygiene.

subrosa said...

Jings Gedguy you bring back memories. I was around 6 when sugar came off rationing and I remember my grandpa (who had an allotment) used to give us lettuce leaves which he's sprinkled with sugar and then rolled.

We were lucky and had a toothbrush. Then possibly I got that from my godfather. I never had treatment from the school dentist maybe because I wasn't afraid of the dentist with knowing him so well. Also I got to play on the typewriter in my godmother's office when I visited.

Didn't get a toothbrush when I stayed with my granny though. I had to dip my finger into a mixture of baking soda and salt and rub my teeth and gums with that. Never really thought it strange.

There were only two of us but I know my mother was in hock to the corner shop too. No supermarkets then and the only other place she shopped was the market under the Caird Hall.

Gedguy said...

I remember the market under the 'Cairdie' because in the arcade bit it had one of those penny rolling machines. You know the ones where there were a load of pennies on view and you had to roll your penny at the right time to get some of pennies to fall out. Never did manage to make any money out of that. I used to stop off there after I'd been to the old baths. I believe it was knocked down about the same time as the old Victoria and Albert Arch (which, I believe was thrown into the dock to help with the landfill for the construction of the new Tay Road Bridge.
I'm glad to see that those who were not so poor as I and my family were in as much hock to the corner shop as we were.
As my Dad often told me, "There were no good old days; it was hard and money was always tight". Sadly, it seems that not much has changed after years of Labour government.

subrosa said...

Aye you're right Gedguy, although when it was knocked down my family had moved south. Was a horrible swimming baths anyway. :)

Men seemed to behave like that in Dundee. My father gave my mother 'housekeeping' yet she never ever knew how much he earned. She went on to be a teacher and behaved in the same manner. So my upbringing was a tug of war between parents who wanted to keep their money for themselves - for whatever reasons.

I thought of you today when I was sent this site:

Had a lot of laughs earlier although it'll take me til the end of the year to see everything.

Do have a look at his Hoolyrood Productions. Some super photos there.

Macheath said...

Re tooth decay - is there a link to maternal (or even grand-maternal) malnutrition? For tooth decay to set in so early suggests some pre-natal factors at work as well.

subrosa said...

Macheath I would say there is, but before I wrote this I tried to see if there was any up to date research but found nothing.

In my own family my mother lost her teeth at the age of 19 and my brother his at 35. My brother was told it was due to lack of calcium as a child but who knows. I've no idea why my mother lost all hers but she used to say she'd had them all taken out while lying on the kitchen table.

Fortunately I've most of mine so if whatever it was didn't affect me in the same way. I doubt if malnutrition was the cause though because my grandmother was a specialist cook.

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