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Experts Call for Warning Lables on Fruit Juice to Save Kids' Teeth

The medical community has repeatedly warned against plying young children with bottles of fruit juice and sugary drinks, but not many parents seem to care . Certainly not in Australia.

Many children turn up requiring as many as 20 fillings and extractions, dentists in that country say.

In the most severe cases, pediatric dentists are being left with no option but to remove all 20 baby teeth.

"It's a tragedy when we see this, but it's not unusual," specialist pediatric dentist Philippa Sawyer said.

At least 1000 children aged four and under were on a 12-month waiting list for dental surgery at The Children's Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales, Dr Sawyer said.

The NSW Dental Association is calling for warning labels to be placed on bottles of juice and soft drink.

"Like tobacco warnings, parents need to be told of the risks," association president Tony Burges said. "We need to clearly spell out that these drinks are high in sugar and high in acid levels."

In the past decade, the number of children under the age of four hospitalised for dental treatment has risen by 29 per cent.

Dr Burges said many parents did not know how important baby teeth were. Baby teeth, which last until a child is about 12, are more prone to decay than second teeth.

Decayed teeth can cause abscesses, infection and orthodontic problems later in life.

Dr Sawyer described the extent of tooth decay in young children as "disturbing".

She said she believed much of it was a result of babies and toddlers sipping on juices or cordial throughout the day.

Dr Sawyer said parents should limit juices, milk and cordial drinks to meal times. Water should be sipped throughout the day to avoid early childhood caries.

It is recommended babies should never go to sleep with a bottle of drink. She said their teeth should be brushed once a day, at bedtime.
Mother-of-three Kerstin MacNevin encouraged all parents to get regular dental check-ups for their children.

She said her son, Jackson, had required multiple fillings and extractions when he was four.

"He needed to go under a general anaesthetic and have lots of work done," Ms MacNevin said.

As a result, she began taking her youngest child, Jasper, to the dentist when he was two. Last week, he had a filling put in one of his front teeth.

"I'd encourage all parents to start taking their children to the dentist when they're very young," Ms MacNevin said.


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