• drToothChampion

World Cavity-Free Future Day 2019

Recently, I just found out that there is a day called World Cavity-Free Future Day (WCCFDay). And for this year, today is the day! It is an initiative launched by the ACFF since 2016. The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) is a global non-profit organisation committed to fighting against the initiation and progression of dental caries (https://www.acffglobal.org/wcffday/) . I personally believe in the cause of this initiative and I hope that the message reaches as many people as possible.

According to the World Health Organisation, 60-90% of school children worldwide suffer from dental caries which is the most common chronic childhood disease globally. Dental caries in young children poses a host of unnecessary health and financial problems to the family. Dental caries, which leads to dental cavities, is a preventable disease. Unfortunately though, most dental caries in children below the age of three are left untreated. But do you know that dental caries can be prevented and treated at the earlier stages? This will save the child from a potentially bad toothache, multiple teeth cavities and infection, as well as costly treatment that may burden families further. And it has been shown in many studies that children who have had dental caries are at a much higher risk of getting more cavities in their adulthood. Once a cavity starts in a tooth, the tooth is doomed to a vicious downhill of fillings, repeated fillings, root canal treatment, crown and finally extraction over the years. So, dental caries in baby teeth should not be viewed lightly as there are many undesirable consequences.

I have mentioned in my previous posts about basic oral healthcare covering toothbrushing, the use of fluoride toothpaste and diet in caries prevention, so I will not delve more on these in this post. The focus this year as part of WCFFDay is limiting sugars to children under the age of two (#BabiesAreSweetEnough). Previously, dental caries was almost always associated with individuals who came from disadvantaged backgrounds and low socioeconomic status. But this is no longer just it. In more developed countries, there is still a good 40% of children below the age of six who have cavities. The ease of obtaining high carbohydrate-containing foods in such affluent countries has largely been blamed. A high carbohydrate diet translates to a high sugary diet.

Sugars are increasingly identified as a source of problem not only dentally but also medically (eg obesity, diabetes). As parents, there is a tendency to want to give your child what he or she wants to eat, be it to gain favour from your child or to stop the tantrum that is embarrassing the whole family in public. We know it is not easy to stop young children from going for sugars because once they have tasted something sweet, they will not eat bland foods and become even more picky with food. Furthermore, it is hard to regulate children’s eating habits when they’re a lot younger as children at that stage do not understand the consequences of these sugars on their health. So the onus is on the parents and caregivers to exercise the control from the beginning. Choose healthier alternatives from the start and avoid sweet processed foods (eg chocolates, ice cream, gummies, raisins). Start healthy habits early and trust me, your child will be thankful to you in the long run!

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