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Parents dental care lacks teeth; 3 in 5 kids have poor oral hygiene

Study Covered 479 People in City And More Than 1 in 10 Knew Their Kids Did Not Brush Well.

 Three out of five parents neglect their children’s teeth by failing to take them to a dentist or ensuring that they brush regularly, research studies show.

The study published in the recent edition of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry , a peer-reviewed dental journal, exposes worrying gaps in oral hygiene among parents of children aged three to 12 years old. In a cross-sectional study involving more than 479 parents and children, dentists screened children for basic oral health and asked parents to fill up a questionnaire. Analysis showed that more than one in 10 parents knew that their child does not brush adequately . Yet, more than half the parents haven’t taken their children for annual dental checks.

While 34% of parents admitted they have delayed or put off scheduling appointments with dentists, nearly 30% said their children caused the delay . “Many parents think buying dental kits such as toothbrush and toothpaste is the end of parental dental care. The number of times children should brush, the amount of time they should spend or the right technique is hardly taught. Many parents don’t even make regular visits to dentists,” said the study’s corresponding author Dr Deepa Gurunathan, associate professor, depart ment of paediatric dentistry, Saveetha Dental College.

What was more worrying for doctors was that at least 60% of parents admit that their children snack between snack between meals. “It is one of the leading causes of dental problems in children. Some parents tell us they are not able to stop their children from doing this. At some point, we feel there is a sense of neglect,” said Dr Gurunathan. “We see two-and-a-half-year-old children requiring complete mouth rehabilitation as all 20 teeth have decayed,” she said.

Dentists say that three in five children in the city have oral hygiene problems such as plaque, tartar or cavities, but the study showed that the risk of dental neglect is high when parents’ awareness or income levels were inadequate, said Dr Arunachalam Karthikeyan Shanmugaavel, who co-authored the study . Lack of adequate oral hygiene has worried paediatricians, who say the mouth is the gateway to health. A range of health problems from psychological problems, heart disease and retardation have been linked to poor oral health. A study published by the same group of dentists earlier this year showed an association between obesity and dental caries. The prevalence of dental caries was found to be more in obese and overweight children than normal and underweight children. “It is established that pregnant women with poor oral hygiene can give birth to low birth weight babies. We are now doing a study to see if educating pregnant women can improve oral hygiene in children,” she said.

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