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04 December 2023

Oral hygiene levels low among Dubai youth

Regular checkups and frequent brushing are among the steps parents should take to maintain good oral health in their children. (Shutterstock)

By Staff

Oral hygiene levels among the youth in Dubai are relatively low, was the conclusion of a recently held survey among school children in the emirate by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

To tip parents on how to maintain a healthy level of oral hygiene among their kids, the DHA dedicated its weekly Twitter Clinic to the subject this Thursday.

Oral hygiene levels can be measured applying the global benchmarking system called the Decayed, Missing, Filled (DMF) Index. When applying to the teeth only (DMFT), the index indicates the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth, forming a general impression of the dental caries among a population.

According to the results of a survey carried out among school children in Dubai, the DMFT among of Dubai children population is in the range of 3.8, a high average compared to international standards.

Caries disease is the most common complication among Dubai residents, and gum disease ranks second. Both complications can be avoided through good oral care and regular checkups, stress dentists.

What is a regular checkup?

A visit to the dentist is often rather avoided. Yet, it is essential for especially children to regularly visit the dentist for consultation.

“After the child gets the first tooth,  parents should ensure the child is seen by a hygienist every six months until the child turns two. After that the child should be seen by pedodontist every six months unless the child is taking treatment and needs to be called in earlier,” said Khulood bin Haider, general dentist at DHA’s dental services department.

Patients often visit the dentist when the tooth is severely decayed and cannot be restored unless replaced, but this is a common mistake, explained Shaima Nasser, a second general dentist at DHA’s dental services department.

“This complicates a simple caries case into a more complex procedure, which greatly increases the risk of infections.  Therefore, people should visit a dentist or a hygienist every six months to detect any caries or oral problems at early stages as well as to clean plaque built up to maintain a proper oral hygiene.”

Brush after sugary foods

The consumption of sugary foods can contribute to complications if not accompanied with good oral health care. Caries can be the result if oral care is not taken seriously.

“It’s important to ask children to brush their teeth after consuming chocolates or sugary foods. They should also brush their teeth 30 minutes after having carbonated drinks or citrus foods. If they are outside the house and it is not convenient to brush the teeth, they should at least rinse their mouth,” advised bin Haider.

This is equally important for children with milk teeth, the dentist adds. “Sometimes, parents feel that children can consume sugary treats because the milk teeth will fall and be replaced with permanent teeth, but this is a misconception.

“Excessive consumption of sugary foods in combination with poor oral hygiene causes premature loss of teeth in children due to caries. This in turn also leads to a delay in the eruption of permanent teeth and when the permanent teeth begin to erupt they may not be aligned. If that is the case, the child will need to go through orthodontic treatment.”

It is important to realise that children are not capable of properly brushing their teeth until the age of six years, bin Haider added. “An easy way to avoid battles at brushing time is to do some role play. Allow them to brush your teeth so that they will allow you to brush their teeth.”

No bottle nursing at night

Bottle nursing at night  should be completely avoided, stressed the dentist. This is because milk contains lactose which turns to sugar at night, which directly leads to decay and early loss of teeth, she explained.

“This is a major problem and too many parents ignore this because their child is comforted by the sucking action that bottle feed offers. Either parents can replace the milk with water or they must wipe the baby’s teeth. In older kids parents should brush their teeth before the child goes to bed.”

Avoid unnecessary orthodontic procedures

While it sued to be a dreaded procedure for every teenager, nowadays braces seem to become more of a trend, pointed bin Haidar out.

“Nowadays we see teenagers with ideal smiles and aligned teeth requesting us for beauty braces. Some teenagers think adding braces with different coloured bands on their teeth looks stylish and will give them the perfect smile, but braces should be reserved for only those who really need them.

People who have spaces between their teeth, have a teeth wearing condition, or have large discoloured fillings are eligible for orthodontic treatment, she explained.
However, when a person who does not require braces chooses to apply them on healthy teeth, this can result in severe teeth decay, gum disease and even complete loss of the tooth because they are unable to maintain good oral hygiene with their braces, pointed bin Haider out.

What to do in case of dental emergency

“Knowing how to deal with dental trauma is important,” said Nasser.
Loss of tooth is  a common cause of dental trauma, and the parent should know what to do in such case, she pointed out.

“If your child’s permanent tooth gets knocked out, place the tooth in milk or water or back in the socket if possible, and go to the dentist immediately. The permanent tooth should be preserved and taken along to the dentist for possible replacement.”

(Image via Shutterstock)