Having six fillings is nothing to be proud of, especially in an age where dental care is so advanced that experts say we should be able to keep perfect teeth for life. So spare a thought for Matilda Fraser, who has already notched up this number of fillings by the age of nine.
And according to Matilda's mother, Victoria, the reason for her tooth decay is not a diet of cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks, but 'five-a-day' snacks such as dried fruit and smoothies.
Victoria, a 43-year-old project manager from Bristol in the UK, is understandably sheepish about the situation. She knows that she and her advertising executive husband Patrick "should have known better than to let things get so bad".
Yet she is also adamant that she and many parents have been misled about what is and isn't healthy for their children to eat and drink.
While admitting to being partly at fault, she also blames the messages fed to mothers of her generation by healthy-eating gurus.
Victoria says: 'We followed what Annabel Karmel [baby food expert and author] said and gave them dried fruit to snack on instead of salty crisps, and gave them those little packet snacks with pureed fruit.
"I'd tut at other mothers when I saw their youngsters in buggies clutching bags of Haribo sweets. Instead, I'd pop a little box of raisins in Matilda's hand.
"I wouldn't dream of letting my children eat chocolate or, heaven forbid, Coco Pops, or have fruit squash, but we'd give them Innocent Smoothies, which we thought were going towards their five a day.
"In the summer, we'd freeze real fruit juice into ice-lollies, and give them fruit to snack on. The mothers at baby yoga classes would all swap tips like this. But I now realise all those foods are loaded with sugar, which is, according to my dentist, what has led to the decay.
"I thought I was putting good things into their bodies but in fact I've wrecked their teeth. I feel stupid. It has been a real wake-up call."
Matilda had her first filling at the age of six. Victoria, who has just two fillings which were done when she was a teenager, explains: 'We've taken Matilda and her brother Harry to the dentist every six months since they were tiny, at the same time as I go for my own check-up. We got glowing reports."
Then, two years ago, Matilda needed a filling. "I burst into tears. I felt so guilty," Victoria says.
Matilda went on to have another filling at each of her next three six-monthly check-ups, and Harry soon joined her under the drill. Now aged 11, he has four fillings - two in his adult teeth.
The Fraser children are far from alone. According to the British Dental Association, dental decay is the number one reason children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital in England.
In New Zealand 34,000 children had teeth removed due to decay or infection in 2012.
There are two ways in which high-sugar foods damage teeth. First is acid erosion, when teeth are exposed to acidic foods such as fruit (including dried) and juice. If the exposure to acid is too frequent, caused by snacking, the enamel begins to soften. If teeth are brushed within 30 minutes of acid exposure, the softened enamel can be scrubbed off.
"Children's milk teeth have thinner and softer enamel so are particularly at risk," says dentist Eddie Coyle from Oasis Dental Care in the UK.
The second major threat is sugar. "Bacteria that live in the mouth feed off sugars and excrete an acid that attacks enamel in a similar way to acid erosion," Coyle says. Even if it's only the milk teeth that are affected, it can still lead to long-term problems, as removal risks adult teeth growing into unnatural positions.
Victoria has now banned fruit juice, dried fruit and smoothies, and while the Frasers still let their children eat fruit, they only do so at mealtimes - never as a snack.
"We've also bought them electric toothbrushes with a two-minute timer and they never brush their teeth straight after meals when the enamel has been softened," she adds.
Matilda had her last filling just over nine months ago, and her latest check-up did not show the need for any more dental work.
"I hope there isn't any lasting damage," says Victoria. "My mother, I'm sure, is disapproving. She brought me up to take care of my teeth. I can't believe I didn't do the same for my own children."
Six tips for healthy teeth
1. Spit, don't rinse after brushing - rinsing strips off protective fluoride left behind from the toothpaste.
2. Brush before breakfast - tooth enamel is softened for about 30 minutes after eating acidic foods.
3. Brush for two minutes. Some electric brushes have timers. Or use an egg timer.
4. Use a straw for fruit juice or fizzy drinks to minimise contact with the teeth.
5. Avoid bedtime milk - this contains carbohydrates that break down into sugars and will dissolve enamel.
6. Minimise snacking. Try to stick to savoury treats such as cheese which neutralise acidity.
- Daily Mail