Oral health is an essential part of our total health. Research has shown children are at an increased risk of developing dental decay potentially due to high consumption of sugar based food and beverages. Additionally, irregular snacking and lack of disciplined oral hygiene habits like rinsing mouth after eating and not brushing before bedtime also boosts dental decay. The emphasis should always be on prevention of dental decay as dental caries continues to be a chronic debilitating disease among children.
Did you know, tooth decay is the number one chronic infection disease affecting children in the US. In 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) commissioned a study which revealed that reducing the sugar intake to less than 5% of a child’s energy intake can help minimise the risk of dental caries throughout their life. Dental caries is known to aggravate with age, and the effects of sugars on the teeth is lifelong.
Most of patient’s parents believe that their child got cavities due to lack of brushing and flossing. That is true to an extent, however they don’t understand the seriousness of the matter, which is tooth decay is a disease known as dental caries is caused by specific germs, spreads easily within families, and can last a lifetime.
Educating parents and children about importance of tooth decay begins with understanding how the tooth decaying bacteria works.
Typically, these bacteria thrive on sugar and produces acid that can eat away the outer structure of teeth and thereby causing depletion of calcium. Studies have shown that newborn babies are born without any of these harmful bacteria in their mouth, and typically contract these bacteria from their parents before the age of two.
This can happen by sharing from the same spoon as your baby, or letting your toddler brush his teeth with your toothbrush. And if you’ve had troubles with cavities yourself, then the possibility of you transferring bacteria through exchange of saliva is real and putting your child at risk being prone to cavities affecting its milk as well as permanent teeth.
With bit of care and effort one can keep dental caries at bay with thoroughly brushing and flossing the teeth. It is a myth to think that a toddler is too young to visit a dentist.
Fact remains a child’s teeth are exposed to the risk of dental cavities long before they have even tasted their first piece of candy. Arranging a dental check-up once every six months can help in early detection and preventive care.
Lastly, it is important to remember, your children might be able to brush their teeth themselves however it is crucial that a parent or caregiver helps the child brush or supervise their brushing their teeth until they turn eight years old.
Dr Ajay Narayan is Specialist Paedodontist, Wassan Specialty Dental Center