Over the last six months, Dr. Sosan Fatima, School Project Coordinator at Dr. Michael’s Dental Clinic, has visited 1,680 students. She has been to 4 schools, 15 nurseries, 3 events and has conducted 3 dental field trips to Dr. Michael’s Children’s Dental Center in Dubai.
She shares her insight on the state of oral health of the children she has visited starting February this year.
SEE ALSO: Bringing Bigger Smiles to Little Faces
What are the common issues that you noticed among the children?
First off, let’s address dental anxiety. It’s not uncommon to hear that most children fear the dentist. In my experience, there are two players when it comes to dental anxiety – one is the approach that dentists have when examining their young patients, and two, is the parents’ overall attitude towards dentistry. Do they use dental visits as punishment? Do parents have dental fear and unintentionally “transfer” the anxiety to their children?
Up until now, the children I have screened did not express any fear or discomfort towards me or any of our pediatric dentists during field trips. For a child to show their trust and to cooperate, dentists should be able to understand they way they the children think and acknowledgement their individual needs.
The second issue is oral hygiene, the nurseries I’ve visited have children with working parents and is under the supervision of nannies. Fifty percent of the parents assist their children while brushing, and the other 50% have no time and leave the brushing to the nannies.
In terms of diet, 60% follow good food habits and 40% of the children don’t really bother about eating healthy or good food.
How is their oral health?
I have visited 15 nurseries and performed dental screening on around 440 children ranging from the age of 18 months to 4 years. It was surprising to see that among a population of wide ranging kids from various backgrounds, 96% of them had good oral health. Three percent of them were affected with dental caries (tooth decay) and 1% by dental fluorosis.
However, the results were different in the schools. The school’s population is multi-diverse by means of ethnicity and hence their food habits. Children from the U.S, Europe, South Africa and few countries from North Africa were found to be least affected by dental caries and other oral hygiene related issues, compared to the children from the other parts of the world. Another interesting thing observed was that children, especially from India, Pakistan and UAE, consume a lot of junk food and they don't cultivate the habit of brushing or rinsing their mouth after each meal. Children are made to brush mornings and nights by parents but the snacking in between meals also plays a huge role. I believe that improper diet is a major reason for dental caries in the group of kids with tooth decay.
How many children have malocclusion?
During my school visits, I happen to screen older children from higher grades in school. It was noted that most of them had very few malocclusion-oriented issues, I feel it's genetics. I had referred them for a complete oral and skeletal diagnosis to get proper treatment plan. About fifty students were referred to an orthodontist. In children from the foundation stage or primary school, tongue thrust or thumb suck habits were hardly seen. Hence, malocclusion related to habit were very less, almost nil.
What would you advise the parents when it comes to their children’s oral care?
Whilst your child's first set of teeth are not permanent, they are still critical to the development of healthy gums, jaws, permanent teeth and dental hygiene habits. From first teething to the development of permanent adult teeth, you can help your child develop and maintain strong healthy teeth and gums.
We strongly advise parents to supervise their children when brushing, to inculcate healthy food habit, to schedule their first dental visit, etc. There is no better way a kid can learn than from his or her parents. Practice good oral hygiene at home and visit your dentist regularly to maintain a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.
To arrange a dental visit to your school or a class dental fieldtrip to Dr. Michael’s Children’s Dental Center in Umm Suqeim, Dubai, please contact our School Project Coordinator at 04-3397700.
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