By: Dr. Bless Yap
A serious public health problem in the Philippines is oral disease. The dental caries prevalence on permanent teeth have generally remained over 90% throughout the years. Oral disease is preventable but it still affects almost every Filipino. Dental Health Education is still needed to be disseminated in the country.
There are 3 ways to make sure our oral health is well taken care of.
- The number one cause of dental caries in children is night time bottle feeding. Milk shouldn’t be used to make the baby fall asleep. At night time, there is little saliva that protects the teeth and milk can produce acids that demineralize the teeth leading to cavities.
- If you consume too much sugar-ﬁlled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, you could be at risk for tooth decay. It’s not only what you eat but when you eat that can affect your oral health. Eat a balanced diet and limit in between meal snacking. It is recommended that our diet contains whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, legumes, low-fat and fat-free dairy foods. If snacking can’t be avoided, eat fruits, vegetables or cheese.
- We should drink plenty of water. Water is the best drink since it neutralizes the PH in our mouths. The higher the pH in our mouths, the higher the risk for dental decay.
- Proper Toothbrushing and Flossing
- Brushing should start as the tooth appears in the mouth. Prior to eruption of the teeth, it is better to massage the gums with wet gauze or a soft silicone ﬁnger brush so the baby gets used to somebody tinkering inside their mouths. Parents should brush their child’s teeth. If the dexterity of your child is already well developed (when they can already tie their own shoe laces), they can start brushing on their own. Adult supervision is still advised.
- When brushing, small circular movements should be done while the bristles are angled 45º towards the gums. Toothbrushes with soft and thin bristles should be used so as to clean under the gums without any irritation and effectively remove plaque. Brushing should be done after every meal, better if after 30 mins at least, to stabilize the pH caused by the acid attack from eating.
- Fluoride toothpaste is best used. Fluoride is a mineral that lessens the risk of tooth decay. Fluoride acts to promote remineralization of the teeth’s structure and also lessens the rate of demineralization. Always check the amount of Fluoride in the toothpastes. For children ages 6 mos – 2 years old, the concentration of Fluoride in the toothpaste should be 1000 ppm (parts per million) and a smear amount of toothpaste should be dispensed on the brush. For ages 3-6 years, 1200 ppm, pea sized amount on the brush. For ages 7 years old and up, 1500 ppm, about 2/3 (of the brush head) of toothpaste on the brush. After brushing, just spit the excess, no more gargling, so that the Fluoride stays longer on the teeth. Fluoride works best if it stays longer on the teeth. These Fluoride recommendations are from the Philippine Paediatric Dental Society.
- For children, ﬂossing is started when the sides of the teeth are in contact or touching each other. Flossing is done daily before toothbrushing.
- Regular Dental Visits
- First dental visit should be as early as the ﬁrst tooth comes out, before the child’s ﬁrst birthday. During this visit, oral examination is done, oral hygiene instructions are taught and oral prophylaxis with ﬂuoride treatment may be recommended.
- Periodic recalls and oral prophylaxis are done for preventive maintenance. Depending on the caries risk of a patient, the regular dental visit should be every 3 or 6 months.
- With regular dental visits, your dentist can help prevent oral problems and can even catch those that occur early while they can be treated easily.
With these 3 guides mentioned, we hope that it would really be put into mind and into action for the betterment of our oral health and the overall quality of life.