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  Life   Health  20 Jan 2019  Keep your child’s teeth healthy

Keep your child’s teeth healthy

THE ASIAN AGE. | KANIZA GARARI
Published : Jan 21, 2019, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Jan 21, 2019, 12:05 am IST

Lack of parental knowledge regarding oral health in young children is also one of the reasons for dental problems in the young.

India-wise, the data is limited but we do see good numbers coming in with some form of toothache or problems in the oral region.
 India-wise, the data is limited but we do see good numbers coming in with some form of toothache or problems in the oral region.

It’s never too early to start off on good oral hygiene, healthy food habits and regular checkups for maintaining dental health in babies and young children.

Toothaches and tooth decay in baby teeth and the permanent teeth of children between three to 11 years of age are on the rise, particularly in the last decade, explains Dr Prasad Meka, chief consultant implantologist at KIMS Hospital, as he answers some common queries with regards to this ever growing problem.

 

Why do children between two and 11 have cavities in their baby teeth?
Children are susceptible to caries as soon as the first teeth appear. Cavities occur when bacteria, predominantly streptococcus mutans, colonise the tooth surface and metabolise dietary carbohydrates to produce lactic acid and other acids, resulting in demineralisation of teeth.

Other reasons are frequent exposure to dietary sugars and refined carbohydrates, inappropriate bottle feeding, low saliva flow rate, developmental defects of tooth enamel, maternal caries, high maternal levels of cariogenic bacteria and poor maternal oral hygiene, low community water fluoride levels, inadequate tooth brushing or inadequate use of fluoride containing toothpaste.

 

Lack of parental knowledge regarding oral health in young children is also one of the reasons for dental problems in the young.

What is the treatment for these children?
Treatment includes dental sealants, fluoride treatments, fillings, varnish and tooth extraction in case of severe decay where the tooth can’t be restored.

What is the incidence of tooth problems in children?
India-wise, the data is limited but we do see good numbers coming in with some form of toothache or problems in the oral region. Earlier, children came when their teeth were broken while playing or when learning to walk but now they are coming due to dietary patterns. Worldwide data says that tooth problems are prevalent in 24 per cent of children in the age group of two to four years, 53 per cent between six to eight years and 56 per cent of 15-year-olds.

 

What causes cavities in the permanent teeth of children between six to 11 years of age?
The primary reason is the location of the teeth, as decay often occurs more in the molars and premolars. These teeth have a lot of grooves, pits and multiple roots that can collect food particles. As a result, they are harder to keep clean than the smoother, easy-to-reach front teeth.

Other reasons include:

Food and drink — Foods that cling to your teeth for a long time like cake, cookies, candy, mint and ice cream are more likely to cause decay than foods that are easily washed away by saliva.

Brushing — If you don’t clean your teeth soon after eating and drinking, plaque forms quickly and the first stages of decay can begin.

 

Not getting enough fluoride — Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which helps prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth damage.

Why are food habits a major problem in oral care?
If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, you could be at risk for tooth decay. Also, if your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to gum disease.

Why is it important to keep the molars active?
Molars are grinding teeth in the oral cavity and the following food types will make them strong:

  • Vitamin C in fruits such as oranges, limes and kiwis helps kill bacteria. Yoghurt also contains natural probiotic bacteria which fight with the bacteria that cause plaque build-up and gingivitis.
  • When a child drinks milk or eats cheese, which are rich in calcium and phosphate, it raises the PH level in his/her mouth, lowers acid levels and reduces the risk of tooth decay.
  • Raw carrots, cucumber, green beans and snap peas are ‘chewing foods’ that mechanically clean your child’s teeth and gums.
  • Nuts and seeds contain natural fats that coat teeth and help shield against bacteria.

Does saliva from the parents’ mouth (by using the same spoon in eating) infect the kids?
Babies are born without the bacteria that causes caries, that in turn leads to cavities. They can however get it from spit that is passed on from their caregiver’s mouth to their own. These germs are passed on by sharing saliva — by sharing spoons, by tasting foods before feeding it to babies, or by cleaning off a pacifier in the adults’ mouth instead of with water.

 

Do foods eaten after brushing at bedtime also cause decay?
Eating again before going to sleep allows bacterial organisms to thrive once more. It is an all-night buffet for bacteria!

How much oral hygiene should be maintained in kids?
Use a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure your child spits it out after brushing. Also, be sure your child brushes for at least two minutes twice a day. Help your child brush and floss, and remind him or her to pay attention to the back teeth.

Tags: teeth, healthy food