Role of parents and siblings in child dental health care


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Infants and children have been equipped with compromised immunity and defense against microorganisms responsible for causing various dental and oral diseases during the growth period. They do not have the capability to combat infectious pathogens attacking the oral soft and hard tissues when conditions become favorable for them. Infants and small children require special support and care for the maintenance of their oral health. Parents and siblings should focus upon the prevention of dental diseases in small children. Parents should help their child to regularly perform regular tooth brushing at least twice a day. Proper tooth brush and tooth paste selection solely depends upon the parents and guardians. Parents’ education and motivation remains the responsibility of dental health care professionals on each dental consultation visit. Parent counseling should be included in the session and goals should be set for them regarding their child oral care until the next appointment.

Among parents, mothers play the major role in the development of a dental home for the child. A dental home is basically a novel concept of introducing and motivating the child and his/her siblings to actively participate in oral and dental health care planning. It is strongly recommended that the infants and small children must visit the dental health clinics soon after the eruption of their first tooth in the mouth or at least after one year of age to get accustomed to the treatment environment for future. The dental operatory environment for paediatric care should be child friendly with cartoon posters and cool, calm surroundings. Attitude of the dental health care professionals and helping staff must be soothing for the child. State of the art preventive methods instituted at the dental office require complete parent cooperation and exercising oral hygiene measures at home. Without good compliance at home, dental treatment procedure cannot achieve the desired outcomes.

It coincides with the latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre that show nearly 26,000 children, aged five to nine, were admitted to hospital in England in 2013-14 with tooth decay.

Now dental therapists are warning that children’s oral health must begin at home, with parents and caregivers given a comprehensive education if preventive measures are to be successful.

They say that the first port of call should be expectant mothers.

The study polled mothers attending child healtwh clinics in Finland using a questionnaire that addressed the issues of health knowledge and behaviours such as sharing a spoon with their child, kissing on the lips, and the mothers’ tooth brushing, smoking, age, and level of education.

The most common health practices related to bacterial transmission from the mother’s mouth to the child’s mouth was kissing the child on the lips (38%), followed by sharing a spoon when feeding the child (14%).

Only parents (or caregivers) with active tooth decay can spread the Streptococcus mutans bacteria through the transfer of saliva.