Grinding Teeth (KH)


katharinahauptmann02_dlYesterday I read about the beginning of a new child dental care plan here in Iceland. That’s good news and it’s about time! This plan includes regular checkups, preventative measures and other necessary treatments free for children under the age of 18.

I remember reading not so long ago about an international study comparing the dental conditions worldwide. According to said study, Icelanders have similarly poor teeth as people in Malawi. And that is really bad news. Malawi’s health care system is considered to be in a very poor state and the country has a life expectancy of 50.03 years. How is it possible that dental care in Iceland comes off so badly?

Compared to the high standard of living we enjoy here in Iceland, the poor state of people’s teeth is somewhat puzzling at first. But then, dental care is not included in the universal health care Iceland is so proud of. To me, that doesn’t make any sense. Having healthy teeth is so essential.

The conditions of children’s teeth in Iceland had been of particular concern. That’s why a new dental plan is being put into action now.

But as I initially stated, I am not really surprised by this news.

As fellow Iceland Review Online writer Aina Fuller described in an article in 2011, , Icelandic kids eat a lot of candy. Not only children, actually.

Well, children love sweet stuff, that is no secret, and of course they might secretly eat more sweets than they are actually allowed to. But what is so amazing to me is the fact that it seems to be highly supported by many parents here. Parents go into the candy store with their kids and buy them a bag of sweets.

As someone spending a lot of time in coffee houses here in Reykjavík, I get to see every day how mothers and fathers stuff their offspring with unhealthy snacks and beverages full of sugar: hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, waffles with whipped cream, a glass of coke or the famous Icelandic orange soda appelsín, a slice of cake, cookies etc.— what a feast for Caries.

I know a lot of people here with young children, all of whom I would describe as very responsible and caring parents, but sometimes I just look at them in disbelief when they let their toddlers drink appelsín or any other sugary treat.

When I was little, I hardly ever got sweets and I was never ever allowed to drink sweet soda drinks. But here, parents and grandparents set the example when they put a two liter bottle of coke on the dinner table.

Unimaginable in my family.

I am not saying Icelanders are bad parents, not at all, but regarding sugar content they just act preposterous to reason. I wouldn’t be surprised to read that Icelandic children are all sugar addicts.

I love appelsín myself, I admit it, but I stay away from it due to its high sugar content.

I was once told that if Iceland was to join the EU, appelsín would be banned because it was too sugary for EU health standards. This is just a rumor and not verified at all.

With this high consumption of sugar containing nutrition combined with a lack of regular checkups and prevention, it is absolutely no wonder the teeth of Icelanders are decaying.

On that note, please don’t let your children eat too much sugar and make sure they brush their teeth well. And floss!

Katharina Hauptmann – [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.