Dubai: 85 per cent of children suffer tooth decay by age 12; experts reveal why

Tooth decay is among the most common dental conditions in the country

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Angel Tesorero

Published: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:29 AM

Today is World Oral Health Day and dentists in the UAE are reminding parents to ensure their kids’ teeth are strong and healthy.

First, some facts: According to a recent survey by health authorities, around 85 per cent of children in Dubai suffer from dental caries (tooth decay) by the time they reach 12 years old. The survey also found that 72 per cent of children in Dubai have gingivitis, which is a form of gum disease. Furthermore, the survey found that only around 28 per cent of children in Dubai brush their teeth twice a day, which is the recommended frequency for good oral hygiene.

Tooth decay is among the most common dental conditions in the UAE. In fact, according to studies, 65 per cent of children in the UAE have experienced it by the time they reach the age of 15.

Importance of dental health

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Dr Ahamed Fahis Purayil, specialist endodontist at Aster Clinic Bur Dubai and Al Warqa, said: “As a doctor, I cannot stress enough the importance of inculcating healthy oral hygiene practices in children from an early age. Parents play a crucial role in this by encouraging their children to brush their teeth twice daily for a minimum of two minutes.

He added: “Oral care begins with the arrival of first milk teeth at about six months of age. For babies, wipe gums with soft clean cloth or gauze after the first feeding and before bed. For older children, flossing at night is crucial to reduce cavity formation.”

Dr Purayul also underlined it’s essential to encourage a tooth-healthy diet that includes foodstuffs rich in calcium like broccoli, dairy products, and green leafy vegetables.

“Parents should avoid allowing their child to go to bed with a bottle filled with anything but water as it can cause severe decay in teeth. Snacks like potato chips and crackers can remain in the crevices of the teeth longer, leading to cavities. Soft drinks and fruit juices should be avoided as they contain acids that can wear down enamel leading to cavities and sensitivities.” he continued.

Speech development

Meanwhile, Dr Suhel Dabawala specialist paediatric dentist at Dubai London Clinic, noted having good teeth is also important for speech development, as they help children form sounds and words correctly.

“If a child's teeth are missing or damaged, it can affect their ability to speak clearly and be understood by others. Not only this, the appearance of a child's teeth can also have an impact on their self-esteem and confidence,” he added.

Dr Dabawala explained early childhood caries occur when food that contain sugar are left in a child's mouth for many hours. Bacteria feed on sugar present in the unclean mouth, producing acid in the process. These acids destroy the outer layer of teeth forming cavities.

He underlined: “Tooth decay is among the most common dental conditions among young children but it can be prevented if feeding and proper hygiene practices are observed at a young age.”


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