By Jessica Pag-iwayan
In a survey conducted by Department of Health (DOH), they found out that 97.1% of Filipino children as early as 6 years-old already have tooth decay. While a data from Department of Education (DepEd) says that, toothache is one of the common causes of school absenteeism.
To address this, Colgate Philippines is conducting the biggest oral health research in the country called Caries Intervention Program (CIP). This aims to show how Filipinos can improve the oral health of children ages 6-8 by looking at the total health component inside schools.
The study is headed by Mark Wolff, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care of the College of Dentistry, New York University, together with College of Dentistry of the University of the Philippines.
During one of their CIPs, Moms and Babies had an opportunity to have an exclusive interview with Dr. Wolff where he gave tips how parents can keep the smile of their kids for life.
1) Two-minutes + fluoride varnish = keeping the smile for life
According to Wolff, Colgate study already proven that two minutes of regular tooth brushing daily, plus applying fluoride varnish, four times a year can prevent tooth decay.
“Brushing their teeth for two-minutes every day. One really good brushing for two minutes on the clock….. that alone can change the fate whether they will get tooth decay,” the Doctor explained. “We demonstrated a 73% reduction in tooth decay. So it means that if you would going to get 10 cavities you would only get two and a half.”
Also, to make brushing time fun and exciting for the kids, parents can buy flavoured toothpaste that kids would love and let them choose their own toothbrush. There are specially designed toothbrushes for the kids based on their favourite cartoon characters available in the market.
2) Wash away sugar immediately
Dr. Wolff also clarified that it’s not the amount of sugar the kids ate that causes tooth decay, but the amount of time the sugar bathed in their tooth.
“If you don’t clean your teeth and you have that film outside of your teeth called plaque. It contains bacteria and it holds the sugars. What happens is, bacteria eat the sugars and poop acid. If you don’t clean that off, even the slightest amount of sugar is enough to feed that plaque for hours and that acid that sits on the tooth and slowly dissolves the tooth until you get a cavity,” Wolff said.
With that, it is vital that kids drink water immediately right after eating any type of sweet food to wash away the sugar from their teeth.
3) Avoid lollipop and gummy bears
The Doctor also said that parents shouldn’t allow their kids to eat gummy bears and lollipop because these sweets are consumed by a long period of time. Thus, the same period the sugar stays in their teeth.
“Can you think of anything worst that having a confection of candy made of pure sugar? Rubbery sugar that you chew on for hours. Don’t buy your child that lollipop. Buy him a chocolate bar but not a lollipop,” Wolff emphasised.
For the infant, he reminded the parents that they shouldn’t give their child a bottle of water mixed with sugar before going to bed because it also causes tooth decay. Give them plain water, instead.
4) Invest on toothbrush and toothpaste
It’s a sad reality that for some Filipino families, oral health is not a priority. But just like overall body health, maintaining healthy teeth is also a great investment.
Wolff encouraged every parent to invest on the overall oral hygiene of their child because their smile affects their career in the future.
“There’s saving in investing in toothpaste and toothbrush in the long run…It makes a difference in the job that children may get later on. Nobody wants somebody in a front desk of a hotel, checking them in, when they smile, missing their front teeth,” he said.
Above all, setting an example to the kids in the key. Parents should “embrace the idea of brushing teeth for two minutes and applying fluoride varnish four times a year.” If they do so, kids will realise the value of it, until this practice becomes part of their daily lives.