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Junart Kim S Nieva


Philippine Dental Health Month is now on its 14th year, after the month-long observance was proclaimed by former President Gloria Arroyo back in 2004. With the theme “Ngiping inaruga mula pagkabata, malusog na ngiti ang baon sa pagtanda”, the focus seems to be on the idea that the present can greatly influence the future.

In the UK, particularly in England, the number one reason for child hospital admissions is tooth decay (Mick Armstrong, chairman of British Dental Association). According to statistics, there were about 42,911 tooth extractions for under-18s from 2016 to 2017! This truly sounded alarming since most of the causes were actually preventable.

“Dental care should start as soon as a child’s tooth appears,” says Bien Valenciano, DMD, a mom of two. “The tooth can be wiped with a clean, damp cloth or very soft toothbrush.”

What about the growing concern about fluoride in toothpastes? Fluoride is essential for healthy teeth; in fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends this very important mineral for the prevention of caries starting from childhood. While beneficial, it can also be detrimental through excess intake, for instance, drinking water from tap. It is just a logical move then to watch closely a child when brushing teeth to prevent ingestion. ADA highly suggests that children 3 years and below use toothpaste “the size of a grain of rice”, and children from 3 to 5 years old use pea-sized amount.

As for those who aspire whiter and stronger teeth, they should avoid oral care products containing peroxides. Although it can remove stains, it is so abrasive that it can damage tooth enamel and contribute to sensitive mouth tissues.  Silica and alumina are great alternatives for they are mild teeth brighteners. Make sure that the products you are using have a Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) of 250 or below, especially for children. RDA is a scale used by the ADA to measure the abrasivity of dentifrices.

BRSVDr Bien Valenciano, who currently works at King Fahad University Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shared that kids as early as 6 years old should receive dental sealants on their permanent molars. Here are some more of her oral care pieces of advise for healthier gums and teeth, to make sure you are always smile-ready!

  1. Brush teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Toothbrushes should be changed 3 to 4 times a year.
  2. Rinse or chew sugar-free gum after meals. Use antibacterial rinse to help prevent tooth decay and gum problems. Chewing sugar-free gum will help protect teeth by increasing saliva production, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralizes acid.
  3. Avoid smoking… tobacco and cigarettes stain teeth and significantly increase the risk of gum disease, oral and lunch cancers.
  4. Eat smart! A healthy diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. Drinking coffee and tea on a daily basis is fine, as long as not too much and tip number is done.
  5. Avoid sugary foods. When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars and produce acid, this can erode tooth enamel, leading to decay.
  6. Last but not the least, have dental check up with your favourite dentist at least twice a year.

Dr Bien attained postgraduate diploma in dental public health from the University of the Philippines – Manila. She also served as a faculty member in her alma mater Centro Escolar University, School of Dentistry.

            In essence, the adults of today still have the chance to guide the children of today with regards to good oral hygiene. Remember that whatever the latter do now will have an effect to what they will have in their older selves. In this day and age of technology, even they deserve a smile-ready selfie!


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