On episode 32 of Sisters Without Shame, Cape Town paediatric dentist Dr Farah Seedat shares simple tips and tricks to help prevent dental caries (tooth decay) in your kiddies.
Seedat practices all fields of dentistry but her focus lies in paediatric dentistry, which she is very passionate about. “Early childhood caries (ECC) is one of the most common diseases affecting children worldwide,” says Seedat.
Why should you care for your children’s teeth?
Believe it or not, but baby teeth are extremely important for your child’s development, says Seedat. “Baby teeth serve several important functions,” she says.
It is also a matter of confidence she says. “You know how children are when it comes to teasing, mocking. They’ve also been teased at school because of their black teeth. So, once again, it has a negative impact on confidence. Children need to be nurtured at a young age. And when they are given positive feedback and made to feel important and special, mockery and other forms of abuse have a negative impact on them.”
Falling asleep while feeding
Feeding your babies breast milk provides the best protection against potentially fatal conditions such as sepsis, chronic lung disease, and necrotising enterocolitis.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for at least six months – but why? Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure a child’s health. But could breast milk also be affecting your children’s teeth?
If they fall asleep on the breast, there is swallowed milk that is pooling in their mouth and basically sticking to the teeth. Milk contains lactose – lactose is a type of sugar – so the body would break down lactose in the same way it would break down sugar from candy,” she explains.
“When that sugar is broken down, it basically turns into acid, which sticks to your teeth… That is the acid that causes the teeth to deteriorate.”
ECC has a very specific pattern. “That’s why the front four teeth are the most affected,” she says.
Knowledge is power in the prevention of ECC, says Seedat. “What you can do is educate yourself about breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and sleeping with a bottle.”
“You can tell how severe the ECC is based on which teeth of your child are affected. From the age of 12 months, breastfeeding does not increase the risk of dental caries. However, when compared to cow’s milk or formula, there is a significant increase in the risk of dental caries after 12 months. As a result, if your child is breastfed after the age of 12 months, their risk of dental caries increases significantly.”
*World Oral Health Day is on 20 March 2022
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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