Kids' Health

Oral Health – A Precursor Of Overall Health

Being a Pediatric Dentist myself, it is quite a happy day to get to write a blog for kids on this double whammy – Children’s day & National Pedodontists’ day & it goes without saying that I would like to address nutrition, food habits & teeth in children.

Kids have a natural inclination towards sweet food as their first food – breast milk – is naturally sweet1. Add to that, sugars are addictive. Yes, you heard it right, and it is a matter of concern. More the intake of sugary/sweet food, more is the chance of tooth decay2

Another important question – Are sugars the only cariogenic (reason for decay) source?

Typical sources:3

  • The refined carbohydrates
  • Soda
  • Juices
  • In-between snack
  • Fried items

Over and above that, major reasons:3

  • Property (Chemical / Physical)
  • Type (sticky/ non- sticky)
  • Frequency
  • Mode (solid/ semi- solid/ liquid)

Most importantly, 

Kids have a habit of:

  • Pouching food
  • Eating slow 
  • Neglecting the food stuck on the tooth surfaces
  • Staying distracted with TV / Mobile / people / other distractions

When these sugary/sticky foods are in the mouth for a longer period, they are broken down to form an acid that harms the tooth and results in cavities.

But why is the baby tooth phase so crucial? 

Baby teeth have :

    • Functional effects
      • Guides permanent teeth development
      • Helps in chewing
      • Helps in speech development
      • Helps in jaw growth
  • Social effects
  • Children without teeth/decayed teeth tend to not express/smile publicly.
  • Psychological effects
    • Due to tooth decay, a child may suffer from bullying by peers which may have ill effects on a child’s mental health. 

So, what basic things should be kept in mind?

One very important aspect

When teeth decay, kids try to skip food which in turn affects the general health of the child, eventually hindering the proper development of the child. Likewise, if our food choices are nutritious, the teeth remain strong and so will the overall development of the child.6

Food – Teeth – Health

These three are interlinked and mouth being the entry point, judicious selection of food for our kids is our prime duty as a parent.

To Conclude- Don’t forget: 5

Rule of 2: Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each and visit a dentist twice a year!!!

Author: Dr. Deepika Chari 

References:

  • Ballard O, Morrow AL. Human milk composition: nutrients and bioactive factors. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013;60(1):49-74. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2012.10.002
  • Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019
  1. Feldens, Carlos & Kramer, Paulo & Vargas-Ferreira, Fabiana. (2019). The Role of Diet and Oral Hygiene in Dental Caries. 10.1007/978-3-319-93426-6_4. 
  2. Heilborn, J.C.A. & Kuchler, Erika & Fidalgo, Tatiana & Antunes, Leonardo & Costa, Marcelo. (2011). Early primary tooth loss: Prevalence, consequence and treatment. Int J Dent. 10. 126-130. 
  3. AAPD guidelines- The reference manual of pediatric dentistry https://www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/policies_guidelines/bp_recdentperiodschedule.pdf                                                             
  4. Anil S, Anand PS. Early Childhood Caries: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Prevention. Front Pediatr. 2017;5:157. Published 2017 Jul 18. doi:10.3389/fped.2017.00157

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