The prevalence of caries in the UAE is unacceptably high, with many studies claiming that 70 to 90 per cent of all children suffer from cavities. But with a few simple changes, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Parents, for instance, should always supervise young children when they are brushing their teeth. The general rule is that children should not brush alone until they are nine years old. Some parents will say, ‘my kids don’t allow me to brush’. My advice to them is to try to change the language. Tell your child ‘I will help you’; kids are more prone to accept the word ‘help’ but may not accept the words ‘I will do it for you’. Another trick is to allow them to brush first and then check how well they did.
However, the latest research has confirmed that it is not only the brushing of teeth that is vital. It is also very important to floss, even for children. If the child is above six years old, it is also good to use mouthwash and fluoride-based toothpaste. It is crucial to note, though, that each age requires a special concentration of toothpaste. According to the European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children aged six months to two years should have 500 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride, two years to six years 1,000 ppm of fluoride, and six-plus 1,450 ppm of fluoride.
- The general rule is to brush teeth twice a day, each time for a minimum of two minutes
- Brush after breakfast and before bed
- The brush bristle should always be soft
- Check the toothbrush packaging for the correct bristle size and purchase accordingly. The toothbrush will mention if it is suitable for children under three years old
- Adults and children should have a dental checkup and clean every six months, and if needed dental X-rays to check if there are any cavities
- Mouthwash is very important. Mouthwash helps to kill bacteria in the mouth that causes cavities
The most common problem that a pediatric dentist faces is deep dental cavities in children at a very young age, sometimes at two or three years old. I believe in the saying prevention is better than cure. The best way of preventing cavities is to eat healthily and ensure good oral hygiene.
Aside from cavities, the staining of teeth can also be a problem. The most common stains come from what we drink, particularly coffee, juices, and sodas. I recommend that children should drink with a straw if possible, and after any drink, especially after coffee, have a sip of water.
And remember that dental anxiety is very common in children, and because of this they can become very uncooperative on the dental chair. To reduce this anxiety I always advise and recommend that treatment should never be carried out on the first visit, especially if it is the child’s first visit in their entire life.
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Dr Mina Charopeme is a pediatric dentist at Dr Joy Dental Clinic in the Mirdif branch. He graduated from European University College and did his Canadian Dental Specialty Core Examination in 2017.