International Dentist Day: Nearly 7 out of 10 children have oral health concerns, say statistics

Updated: Feb 09, 2020, 10:10 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

While the day is a celebration of dentists all around the world, let us take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of dental health for children .

This image has been used for representational purposes only
This image has been used for representational purposes only

Dentistry is one of the oldest branches of medicine in the world. While the day is a celebration of dentists all around the world, let us take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of dental health for children but lets understand why is oral hygiene and dental health important.

Dr Ipshita Suyash throws light on the topic and suggests that dental health helps in maintaining the quality of life of a child. She says, "A healthy mouth enables not only children to receive nourishment for the physical body but also provides the child with the feel good factor. Many diseases have their first signs in the mouth. Regular visits to a pediatric dentist will help you catch any symptom right at its inception, enabling prevention from any disease affecting the entire body. Apart from chewing, teeth also aid children with speech. The position of teeth and the way the tongue rolls on them can affect a child’s pronunciation. Blackened teeth due to cavities or gaps in teeth have been the reason for children being bullied at school. Dental health is thus important to maintain the quality of life of the child."

Moreover, statistics also suggest that the oral hygiene of a child is a raising concern. "The data that came out in 2019 pointed out 7 out of 10 children in India have oral health concerns. It has been emphasised that 2 out of 3 children in a general population could be seen to have a higher chance of developing cavities. The major issues that came across were tartar build up, bad breath,
visible cavities in teeth, infection of the gums and bleeding."

Many of these oral health conditions can be avoided with increased awareness, support, and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes.

However, given it's the age of chocolates and junk food, a lot of children refuse to brush their teeth on a daily basis or are too lazy. "Refined food items are definitely a cause to worry not only for teeth, but also for the overall health of children. Lack of oral hygiene has led to toddlers developing bad breath and foul taste in the mouth. This prevents them from wanting to consume healthy foods. Parents then have to turn to comfort food to just ensure the child has had something to eat. Without oral hygiene the child continues circling this vicious cycle. The need of the hour is educating children and parents about the various ways to improve a child’s willingness to brush his/her teeth. Customized dental kits are available which provides the child entertainment as well as the right product to achieve a good oral health," says Dr Ipshita.

On being asked about the day-to day habits which can be inculcated in children to maintain oral hygiene, Dr Ipshita says, "Children are always taught to brush morning and night. However apart from that they should be encouraged to floss at least once a day. Ensure the child develops the habit of rinsing his/her mouth after each meal. Food stuck on the tooth will eventually lead to decay and bad breath. Also, the concept of biting into whole foods must be introduced to children. The act of biting into an apple or munching on a carrot not only exercises your jaws but also acts as natural teeth cleaners. Not only that, but also whole foods provide vitamins that are needed for the healthy growth of the child."

A lot of mothers also struggle with when to take their children to a dentist. Dr Ipshita throws light and says, "According to international guidelines, a child should see a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts or their first birthday, whichever is earlier. At around 4-5 months of age children start teething. Visiting a pediatric dentist during this time helps you help your child to sail through the woes of teething. Which toothpaste and what toothbrush and the techniques for achieving good oral hygiene are a few things, which a child teeth specialist can help you with."

It is certain that our smiles would not look half as good if it weren't for our dentists. It's time that we pay our dentists a visit and say thank you!

Dr Ipshita Suyash is a Preventive Pediatric Dentist practicing in Mumbai. She is the founder of Toothish, which is the first preventive clinic with exclusive child dentistry along with lactation and pre-post natal fitness assistance for mothers. She is a chief Pediatric dentist at various dental chains and has authored a number articles in parenting and scientific journals.

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