“The National Children’s Oral Health Survey of South Africa has indicated that 60% of 6 year olds have dental caries and 80% of those children are walking around with untreated caries,” said Dr Maphefo Thekiso, community dentistry specialist at the Wits University Faculty of Health Sciences.
Dental caries is the scientific term given to tooth decay or rotten teeth.
6 year old Ziphezintle Mncwango visited Dr Thekiso after experiencing severe tooth ache. Upon closer inspection, Dr Thekiso diagnosed Ziphezintle with rampant caries, finding that out of her 20 teeth, 10 were rotten.
Rampant caries is a condition whereby many teeth in a person’s mouth are found to be rotten.
Extraction is the only solution at this point for Ziphezintle, to get rid of the decayed teeth altogether.
Dr Thekiso explained that this severe decay was largely due to Ziphezintle’s diet.
“She’s a child who has been exposed to sweetened beverages and she’s a child who has had this at a very high frequency – from breakfast to supper she’s exposed to sugar concentrated juices and drinks,” said Dr Thekiso.
Sugary beverages change the pH balance in the mouth, making the environment in the mouth more acidic and the teeth prone to rotting.
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