A Consultant Paediatric Dentist with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka Teaching Hospital, Dr. Nneka Onyejaka has cautioned adults against sharing cutleries with children.
The expert noted that the sharing of cutleries between adults and children can lead to bacterial infections in children especially if the adult has a tooth bacterial infection.
Onyejaka, who is also a senior lecturer in the faculty of dentistry, UNN, in an interview monitored by LN247 “It is not nice for children to share utensils, especially with adults because if an adult has tooth decay, the bacteria causing it would infect the utensils and if a child uses it, those bacteria would get into the child’s mouth and start initiating tooth decay in the child so it is not good.”
The consultant dentist also urged parents to start brushing their infant’s tooth as soon as a tooth erupts, noting that it would help to familiarise the infant with the idea of teeth brushing.
She said, “We expect parents to start brushing the child’s tooth with a toothbrush immediately when a tooth erupts and not with a handkerchief as is generally found.
“The baby’s tooth should be brushed with a soft toothbrush. This has some advantages: the child will get used to having a foreign body like a toothbrush that early and then you should apply a little toothpaste, like a smear, so that the child will be exposed to chloride which will prevent tooth decay
“If you don’t do that on time, by the time the child turns two, three, or four years old and you want to introduce a toothbrush, you’d notice that they will refuse and not like it. At that time, you’d start running after them in the morning to get them to brush their teeth, which is stressful.”
She also urged nursing mothers to always clean the mouth of the baby after breastfeeding. This, she said, can be done with a face towel.
Speaking on, Onyejaka equally urged parents with infants to bring their children for dental checks before they turn a year.
This, she said, is to teach the parents anticipatory guidance in the care of the child’s tooth.
She noted that the lack of knowledge of oral hygiene for children has led to children as young as two years developing tooth decay, which is not right.
The World Health Organisation has over the years stressed the need to reduce the global burden of dental caries, noting that doing so was crucial in attaining optimal health.
According to a 2018 study published by BMC journal, dental caries is quite common in children.
The population-based cross-sectional study conducted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia titled: ‘Prevalence of dental caries and associated factors among primary school children,’ revealed that “dental caries was prevalent among children (83%, 95% confidence interval 79.7–86.0%).
“Individual factors, including irregular brushing, late adoption of brushing habit, consulting dentist for symptomatic treatment, lack of breastfeeding, sleeping with a bottle in mouth, the habit of snacking between meals, low consumption of fruits, and frequent consumption of soft drinks and flavored milk, were predominantly associated with dental caries in children.”