ZIMBABWE – Mandla (not his real name) is a normal child who went through all stages of child development in a normal way but when it came to the stage of tooth development something was different from others.
“His first four teeth were as normal as any other child’s teeth but the difference was, even if he really felt like biting things he would try and do so then hesitate.
Could my child be unique or these signs are abnormal signs of poor oral health? I had never considered brushing my son’s teeth or at least wipe his gums with a clean piece of wet warm cotton wool when he was a baby.
Should I visit the dentist?
No he will be fine he is just going through stages of development maybe his gums are swollen so it hurts to bite things,” these are the words of a nursing mother who is in denial of poor oral health on her child.
Oral health has never been of particular attention to African people, many consider regular visits to the dentist a waste of time but when your teeth weaken your diet is affected especially when it comes to a child who is not yet fully developed.
“My son was prematurely introduced to fizzy beverages, sweets, bread and so forth he got used to them and we would give him what he wanted, who would want to deprive his or her child of the things you never got to get as a developing child.
I did not know I was actually denying my child of oral health.
When Mandla’s teeth fully developed most of his front teeth had already decayed and most body building food are difficult for him to bite, this worries me a lot and I have tried to brush his teeth but it seems it is too late.
I fear he is going to have poor oral health for the rest of his life I am really worried.”, said Mandla’s mother.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of one’s teeth.
Tooth decay is caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus which develops in teeth, for baby teeth there are also other bacteria mutants which cause tooth to decay like lactobacillus and acidophilus.
Such bacteria develops when carbohydrates present in biscuits, bread , sweets etc ferment and produce an acid which dissolves teeth calcium causing tooth decay.
In an interview with H-metro a Dr Bamu a dentist also recommended nursing mothers not to overuse Medication in syrup form.
“Medication in syrup form also contains fermentable sugar, those are bad for oral health and if prescribed by a doctor, nursing mothers should brush their child’s teeth twice a day to avoid tooth decay.
Tooth brushes recommended for infants should be used to brush children’s teeth,” Said Dr Bamu.
Do ARVs cause tooth decay
There have been several beliefs that circulate within individuals that ARV tablets also cause tooth decay.
Dr Bamu explained more on the context, he went on to explain that anti retroviral taken in syrup form is the one which causes tooth decay.
Children living with HIV have a weak immune system therefore the ability to fight off these seemingly harmless bacteria which causes tooth decay with salivary immunoglobulin is diminished.
What is oral hygiene?
Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, most commonly, dental cavities, gingivitis, periodontal (gum) diseases and bad breath.
Regular visits to the dentist are a good way to keep tour teeth healthy, good oral health also goes beyond having white teeth, it stretches to more to the way your teeth can handle cold and hot substances it also stretches to having good breath all day.
During festive season most people choose to eat carelessly and ignore healthy food, a ‘sweet tooth season’ is what people call it, however, forgetting there is life after Christmas.
Although it is wise to be particular with oral hygiene in children adults are mostly recommended.
Tooth decay in adults is mostly causes by poor oral hygiene that is paying regular visits to the dentist, avoiding flossing and not brushing their teeth or less than two times a day.
Every human being is recommended to brush their teeth twice a day and if one can afford buying mouthwashes after brushing their teeth also helps keep clean teeth.
Is tooth decay hereditary?
Genetically dental anomalies can be passed down but there are specific anomalies such as Dentinogenesis imperfecta is a disorder of tooth development. This condition causes the teeth to be discolored (most often a blue-gray or yellow-brown color).
However, tooth decay is a bacterial infection and bacteria cannot be passed down through genes.
Parents with dental problems who feed their children food from their mouth or kiss their children can cause a bacterium that causes tooth decay to their children.
How do I keep good oral hygiene?
There has not been a fixed solution for oral hygiene for everyone besides flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day.
The best solution to keeping good oral hygiene is to maintain regular visits to the dentist, because oral problems differ with individuals.
A dentist would prescribe a remedy basing on the condition you have.
However, using a tooth brush and toothpaste twice a day would do half of the job to be done by a dentist.