It is true that the incidence of childhood dental disease is a lot lower in the 21st century than it was several decades ago. However, this ‘better picture’ is under threat because of continuing inappropriate childhood dietary behaviors and feeding practices that are often associated with changing dietary beliefs and the shift in consumer focus from home-prepared meals to on-the-go food products. This is the principal challenge faced by both dental professionals and responsible parents today. The growing consensus is that reducing childhood dental disease is not only the business of one family, one state, or one nation, but of the whole world.
The global initiative to reduce childhood dental disease focuses more on the impact of childhood nutrition and family dietary behaviors on the incidence of Early Childhood Caries. You can see this article to find out more about the global effort to further reduce the incidence of childhood dental disease. Dental caries or tooth decay is very common among young children for a number of reasons.
The natural tendency of children to favor sweet and starchy foods remains strong. This exposes them to the risk of developing dental caries by supplying the germs present in their young oral cavity with the much-needed fuel for growth and proliferation and the protection against mechanical removal in the form of brushing the teeth.
What some parents fail to understand is that children can be taught to drink plenty of water right after eating sugary and starchy treats to help minimize the impact of these foods in the development of dental caries. Moreover, gargling or rinsing the mouth after eating candies and other similar food items can also provide the same benefit. These simple measures can help reduce the incidence of tooth decay in children.
Another point that the global initiative wants to address is the feeding habits and dietary practices of the modern family. It is noted that more and more families are abandoning the idea of preparing home-cooked meals in favor of dining out. While this can be beneficial from time to time as a means to provide variety to the strengthening of family relationships, doing it almost on a daily basis can have a negative effect on children’s nutrition in general, and their oral health, in particular.
One aspect of childhood dental caries is the immaturity of the teeth. The protective outer layer of the teeth is not yet strong enough to withstand the chemical activities of germs. Some foods are known to easily degrade this protective layer and further increase the risk of developing caries. Some foods are also known to improve the integrity of such layer while also allowing for the strengthening of the teeth.
Sadly, dining out simply means the family has no control over what ingredients are used in the meals they are consuming. Even sadder is the fact that children are also exposed to such faulty dietary practices.
Dental professionals are also hard-pressed at encouraging families to bring their children to dental offices at the earliest possible time. The general observation is that some families will wait until a child’s tooth has erupted before taking him or her to the dentist. Regrettably, there are more families who wait until their child reaches 2 years old before they even start considering visiting the dentist.
This mindset has to change if one wants his or her child to have the perfect set of teeth. Pediatric dentists are readily available to assist even infants who don’t have teeth yet so that their parents can be better prepared to handle the oral care needs of their babies. Parents of infants can be taught early on how to support their baby’s developing teeth under the gums. They can also be taught on the correct way to manage some of the common concerns during teething. In other words, families do not need to wait until their child has a complete set of teeth before visiting the dentist.
Education remains a very important tool among dental professionals to help encourage parents and families to start thinking about the proper care of their children’s teeth and oral cavity. This is the main essence of the ongoing global initiative to reduce childhood dental disease.