A recently conducted independent survey indicates that around 65 per cent children in India are affected with caries, a tooth decay commonly called cavity, according to Divya Sanjay Sharma, Chairperson, Department of Paediatrics and Preventive Dentistry, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Dental College & Hospital (ZADC), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Professor Divya Sharma was speaking to the parents of children suffering from cavity during a special interactive session.
"If you suspect that your child has cavity, make an appointment with a paediatric dentist. They can examine your child's teeth for signs of decay and then recommend treatment based on the extent of tooth decay," she asserted.
Explaining the treatment procedure, she told the parents of toddlers that dental filling is common for infants and children who have one or more cavities. Fillings can take place on permanent teeth, as well as on baby teeth.
"During the procedure, the dentist removes the tooth decay and then fills the hole with a white composite or metal material. Filling a cavity that forms on a baby tooth can save or preserve the tooth," Sharma said, adding that saving the tooth is important because losing baby teeth prematurely can cause a permanent tooth to improperly come in.
She pointed out that it is only in the cases of a severe tooth decay that a dentist advises for a dental crown, typically silver in colour.
If the tooth is badly damaged or has an infection, the baby tooth may need to be extracted, she said.
She stressed on the importance of closely monitoring children as they brush and floss their teeth. "Make sure they know the proper technique, and brush for the recommended amount of time," she said.
"Parents of younger babies should take care of infant oral care. Even if your baby doesn't have teeth, their mouth still has germs. So wipe their gums with a soft cloth after each feeding, and gently brush their teeth twice a day with a pea-size amount of kid-friendly fluoride toothpaste," Sharma elaborated.
She also urged the parents to make sure that their children avoid night bottle feeds and snacks, and rinse their mouth with water before sleeping.
Also, brushing should be started in the first year of a child's life with just a rice grain amount of paste used twice daily. Children who are prone to dental problems must visit the dentist every three months. For children with braces or retainers, modified strokes using orthodontic brushes should be demonstrated by the dentist, she said.