ABUJA – Mrs Amaka Ozioko, a Dental Therapist with the Wuse General Hospital, Abuja, has advised parents to caution their children against the intake of sugary foods to prevent tooth decay.
Ozioko gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
The therapist said the main cause of tooth decay was usually not the amount of sugar in the child’s meal, but how often it was eaten or drunk throughout the day.
She said sugary foods and drinks should be limited in-between meals and at meal times because sugary foods and snacks could stick to the teeth causing early decay.
The therapist said that different types of food could cause tooth decay in children, and not just sweets and candies alone.
She said foods high in carbohydrates, juices, peanut butter, among others, could further affect the tooth and gums of children.
She also noted that the frequency with which the foods were eaten and the time they remained as particles in the mouth could lead to early decay.
Ozioko, therefore, advised parents on the need to take to take care of their children’s gum.
Speaking on the dental care for babies, she said a good dental care should start from birth, using a glass of warm water and a
leveled teaspoon of salt in caring for their gums, even before the emergence of teeth.
She said toothpaste was not recommended at infancy, adding that the use of a cotton wool or soft towel could be used in cleaning the gums and tongue.
The therapist said that the gauze should be wrapped around the finger tips and dipped into warm salt water solution, and wiped around the gums at morning and night, especially during bath time.
She noted that cleaning the mouth of babies at an early stage further helped them get accustomed to the procedure before the introduction of toothbrush.
“Once your babies’ first teeth begin to appear, you should begin cleaning them very carefully, at least twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush,” she said.
The dentist said that some babies’ teeth would begin to emerge at about 3 to 4 months of age, adding that a toothbrush could be introduced after twelve months of age.
Ozioko said that babies developing teeth could also benefit from fluoride contained in water and tooth paste.
She said that the mineral content in fluoride helped prevent tooth decay, thereby strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to bacteria.
She said that fluoride was a substance found naturally in water, adding that it played an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention.
“Bacteria in the mouth cannot harm the gums of infants before the teeth emerge, however, it is important to clean the mouth daily to make it easier to transit into tooth brush,” she said.
She encouraged the use of small soft tooth brush with small amount of tooth paste with supervision to avoid giving the child too much of fluoride.
“Mothers could use a baby toothbrush, with soft nylon bristles and a small head which will allow you to reach all parts of your babies’ mouth easily, ‘’