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Wed 15 Mar 2006 04:00 AM

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Survey blames parents for children’s teeth decay

A recent UAE-based survey shows that parents may be failing to teach children correct dental hygiene procedures.

A recent UAE-based survey shows that parents may be failing to teach children correct dental hygiene procedures. The survey, commissioned by Oral-B, found that 73% of parents said their child didn’t start brushing prior to the age of three. 56% of parents interviewed said that they do not supervise their children while they are brushing their teeth.

“It is extremely important for parents to start educating their children on proper tooth brushing methods from a very early age,” said Dr M. Talass, a Dubai based orthodontist. “Failure to do that will result in poor oral hygiene among children, and consequently decay and other serious health issues in children’s permanent teeth.”

The results of the survey, conducted on 100 families of various nationalities, back up Ministry of Health data that show a high level of cavities in children’s primary dentition (see data on page 63). More than half of 12 year old children have cavities in their permanent dentition; by the age of 15, more than 60% experience dental decay.

Dr. Talas explains that children start to grow teeth as early as four months old and this is when tooth brushing should commence. By starting proper oral care from the outset, parents can help prevent their children from suffering serious dental problems, such as cavities and gum disease, later.

“Parents need to understand that preventative methods are the best way to ensure their children will have healthy, strong teeth as they progress into adulthood,” Dr. Talas said. “All parents take thorough care of their children’s overall health, making sure their child has every support it needs. It is just a small step from there to assure regular trips to the dentist and proper brushing practices that are the crux of ensuring good oral health.”

According to the research, it is not just the lack of brushing that is a problem. Parents are providing children with tooth brushes that are not suitable for their young teeth. “Young children require a special sort of tooth brush,” said Dr. Talas.

“Toothbrush providers have developed the right tooth brush for the right stage in a child’s oral development and parents should pay greater attention to that. Parents should look for features like bristle suppleness, head size and handle grip, factors that are crucial to effective brushing.”

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