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Health And Family

Poor oral hygiene may lead to more serious health problems — dentists

Dolly Dy-Zulueta - Philstar.com
Poor oral hygiene may lead to more serious health problems â dentists
Dental check-ups should be scheduled every six months.
MMC / Released

MANILA, Philippines — It is important to develop proper oral hygiene habits early in life. Unfortunately, oral health happens to be one of the most neglected aspects of a child’s overall wellbeing in the Philippines.

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 report, the country has the most number of children under age 5 who are suffering from dental caries (or tooth decay) in the whole Southeast Asia and Western Pacific region.

Like others, you may think that dental caries is just a simple problem. But it is a serious health concern that parents should not take for granted.

Early tooth loss may affect the ability to chew food and thus lead to poor nutrition. It may also impair speech and become a factor in poor school performance. Dental health issues may also affect a child’s self-confidence or self-esteem. The physical problem of having a missing tooth, bad breath, or black stained teeth may make it difficult for a child to develop social relationships. Poor oral hygiene may lead to more serious health problems such as pneumonia and heart disease.

“Dental health problems are mostly preventable with proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Parents should be the first ones to introduce healthy oral care habits to their children,” said Geraldine J. Campos, DDS, Chairperson of the Department of Dental Medicine, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed).

Dr. Campos also offers the following tips or suggestions to parents on how to establish proper oral hygiene for their children:

Choose the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your child. Make sure that your child’s toothbrush has a small head, soft bristles, and a large handle. Replace the toothbrush with a new one every three months or, if the bristles are already frayed, even sooner. For infants and babies, a soft washcloth or a soft toothbrush can be used as the gums' daily oral hygiene routine can be established even prior to tooth eruption.

Dr. Campos further cautions that for children under two years old, only a smear layer size of toothpaste containing no less than 1,000 ppm (parts per million) fluoride should be used, while children aged 2 and above should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with 1,350 to 1,500 ppm of fluoride.

“Make sure that the child brushes his or her teeth twice a day,” Dr. Campos said as she emphasizes the importance of adult supervision until the child can brush his or her own teeth.

Practice regular flossing.  An essential part of the tooth-cleaning process, flossing removes food particles and plaque in between teeth that brushing is not able to reach. Flossing should begin when two teeth start to touch, which typically happens when the child reaches the age of 2. Children usually need assistance with flossing until they are 8 to 10 years of age.

Take your child to the dentist regularly.  Dental check-ups every six months are an important part of good oral hygiene for children. “We highly encourage parents to take their children for a dental check-up after their first birthday or as soon as their first tooth comes out,” Dr. Campos said.

Prevention is always better than cure. Instilling good oral care habits early in your child’s life is the best way to prevent both tooth decay and gum disease. This way, you keep tooth problems at bay.

RELATED: Why flossing should be a habit: Dentist explains

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