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Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are no longer a looming public health crisis, but a very real one. By working together, and acting now, we can prevent not only oral health damage, but obesity - a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

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YOUR ORAL HEALTH : INFANTS & TODDLERS

Common Problems

Teething

This is the time when a baby's first few teeth begin to come through the gums. When the teeth break through the surface the gums may swell and become tender. Teething is easy to spot as your child may become restless or cry constantly. This may also be associated with disrupted sleep and eating habits, cheek redness, drooling and chewing or biting on their toys. But it is not usually associated with an increase in temperature. You can help your child by applying cold cloth wrapped in ice cubes and by using safe teething rings. You can also try using teething gels before feeds to relief pain. 

Pacifier or Thumb Sucking

Many parents choose to have their infant suck a pacifier or dummy to calm them. Some children may also suck their thumb or finger. The effects of these habits on teeth are minor if used for a limited period of time, but if used for a long time it may cause problems in the way the teeth develop. Discontinue the use of a pacifier by 2 years of age and never dip the pacifier in sugar, honey or other sweetened drinks.

Early Childhood Caries

Early childhood caries (ECC) is the term used to describe the form of dental caries that affects the teeth of infants and young children, and has been identified as an important health problem that affects the growth, development and quality of life of many preschool children and impacts on the family as a whole. ECC is caused by long and frequent exposure of a child's teeth to sugar.

Teeth are at risk of dental caries from the time they start to appear in the mouth, and therefore children from approximately six months of age onwards are at risk of developing ECC. Severe form of ECC develops very quickly and teeth may be destroyed within six months of its onset.

ECC can be prevented by brushing the baby teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride as soon as the first tooth starts to come through the gums. It is also good to clean the areas of the gum that remains toothless. If a bottle is used for feeding always hold the baby while feeding and do not put the baby to bed with a bottle. Discontinue the use of bottle by 12 months of age. Avoid giving sweet drinks such as fruit drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened drinks to your child.

Lift the Lip

Early identification of this caries can help prevent or stop the progression of this disease. Parents should lift their child's lip regularly to check for signs of tooth decay. 

Stage 1: Healthy teeth and gums

Stage 2:  Chalky, white spots or lines on the tooth near the gum line. This could mean start of tooth decay. Take your child to a school /community dental clinic as soon as possible.

Stage 3: Yellow / brownish discolouration or cavities. Visit a dental clinic immediately

Stage 4: Well advanced decay or loss of tooth structure. Visit a dental clinic immediately 

Decay can also be seen in the upper or lower back teeth. Visit a dental clinic immediately