Good oral health and regular dental care can improve children’s overall physical health, a consultant at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has said.
“The two practices also lead to better academic performance at school,” pointed out Dr Mohamed Sultan al-Darwish, consultant, Public Health Dentistry at HMC.
Pain and discomfort from oral health problems can make it harder for children to focus on school work and can also cause them to miss classes to receive dental treatment.
The HMC physician observed parents have an important role in both educating their children about good oral health and modelling behaviours that will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, the two main types of dental disease seen in children.
“Children should be taught the right way to take care of their teeth and also in ensuring they have regular cleanings and checkups with a dentist. Every meal and snack expose our teeth to friction and the creation of bacteria in the mouth. These can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If parents teach there children about good oral hygiene while they are young they will keep healthy habits as adults,” al-Darwish added.
He said that parents should help their child get into the habit of using mouthwash and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste three times a day.
Children should be encouraged to rinse their mouth with water after every meal and snack and to use dental floss at least once a day. He also asked parents to replace their child’s toothbrush every three months.
“Parents can promote good oral health by not serving children carbonated drinks and sticky sweets. Oral conditions have an impact on overall health and disease. Our eating patterns and food choices play an important role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease,” he said and asked parents to encourage their children to eat a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein such as fish or beans, and dairy. “Eating a variety of healthy foods helps ensure children get the nutrients they need to be healthy and to maintain good oral health,” he said.
The doctor asked parents to limit children’s consumption of saturated fats, salty and sugary snacks, soft drinks and juice and encourage them to drink plenty of water, preferably water that contains fluoride.
“Drinking water after eating sugary or acidic drinks helps to rinse out the mouth and dilutes the sugar and acid in these foods and beverages. After drinking sugary or acidic beverages, children should be taught to avoid brushing their teeth right away. Waiting at least one hour will allow time for their teeth to recover and the enamel to re-harden,” al Darwish said.
The best way to avoid tooth decay and gum disease is to prevent them from happening in the first place. “Parents should not hesitate to take their child to the dentist if they notice any symptoms of tooth decay or trauma, including bleeding from the gums while brushing. children should visit there dentist regularly for a check-up, ideally every six months,” he said.
Throughout the year the Hamad Dental Center hosts activities that are aimed at raising awareness about the importance of good oral health. Staff from the Center regularly visit schools, community groups, sporting clubs, and other public places, providing free dental checkups, offering oral health tips, and distributing educational materials.
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