Oral health affects our ability to speak, smile, eat, and show emotions. It also affects self-esteem, school performance, and attendance at work and school. Oral disease; which range from cavities to gum disease to oral cancers; cause pain and disability.

 

Abu Dhabi Public Health Center aims to strengthen oral disease prevention and reduce the burden of dental disease in the community and enact the Oral Health Policy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi- by:

  • Supporting the integration of oral health screening in general health screenings
  • Advocating for improved access to evidence-based prevention and fluoride
  • Raising awareness and providing evidence-based educational materials for the community
  • Developing programs in educational institutions and other important settings
  • Skill building and facilitating training and education

The center works actively to strengthen ties with other stakeholders to promote community oral health and to provide the community with credible health education and materials.

Part of our activities include:

  • Biannual training for all registered school nurses in Abu Dhabi on school age children’s oral health and disease and trauma prevention.

Skill building and training for non-dental healthcare providers on preventing oral diseases from pre pregnancy stage to early childhood.

Disseminating educational giveaways to promote the adoption of early hygiene practices and preventive dental visits.

An annual campaign to celebrate the World Oral Health Day on March 20 to raise awareness and to spread information about Oral Health and disease prevention.

Our Oral Public Health programs include;

  • Early Childhood Caries Prevention Program
  • Integrating Oral Health Screening with the Periodic Comprehensive Screening Program in Abu Dhabi
  • School based Oral health Program
  • Enhancing Fluoride availability for the community and strengthening partnerships

Early Childhood Caries Prevention Program

The program aims to raise awareness of the parents and that of the healthcare providers on the importance of beginning early oral hygiene habits and attending the preventive dental visits as soon as the first tooth emerges in the mouth. The program takes the opportunity of the mandatory vaccine visits to provide the key information around preventing Early Childhood Caries (ECC); these were formerly known as nursing bottle caries, baby bottle tooth decay, night bottle mouth and night bottle caries, it is a disease that affects teeth in children aged between birth and 71 months (before the 6th birthday). ECC is characterized by the presence of 1 or more decayed, missing, or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth.

The target audience of the program: parents of toddlers, and healthcare providers who care for pregnant women and toddlers.

Program objectives:

Increase the number of children who visit the dentist for the first time before their 18 month birthday.

Increase knowledge around oral disease prevention and early childhood caries among non-dental healthcare providers and parents.

The key messages include

For parents of children:

  • Primary teeth are important for your child’s wellbeing.
  • Primary front teeth begin erupting when your baby is 6 months old and are expected to serve the child for around 7 years.
  • Primary back teeth begin erupting at 14 months old and are expected to serve your child for around 12 years.
  • Decay and early loss of teeth cause many physical and psychological problems for your child.
  • Before you see teeth in the mouth;

    Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your child.

    Take care of your baby’s mouth by wiping it with a clean cloth.

    During teething period do not apply anesthetics on the gums of your teething baby. These are not safe and not recommended.

    Instead, use a gum massager or safe teething toys. Do not dip them in anything.

  • After you see the first tooth in the mouth
    • Continue breastfeeding, it is the best nutrition for your child.
    • Get the baby’s first tooth brush and begin brushing the teeth with water or with an age appropriate toothpaste.
    • Use only a tiny smear layer, with the size of a ‘grain of rice’ of toothpaste.
    • Make brushing the teeth part of the day and sleep routine and aim for twice a day.
    • Make it a favorable experience, sing for your child as you are brushing or hum his favorite melody.
    • In the baby’s bottle only add unsweetened milk or water. Do not offer any juices or sweetened drinks.
    • Do not let your child sleep with a bottle throughout the night. Remove it when the child is full. Remember that the milk has lactose and we should not keep it in contact with the teeth for a long time.
    • Pacifiers are safe for your child at this age, but do not dip it in any sweetener.
    • When your child begins solid mashed food you can begin offering them some water.

      Use a sippy cup instead of a regular bottle for the water, this will aid transitioning your child from using a nipple/bottle to a cup.

    • Schedule your child to visit the dentist. The first dental visit will let the dentist examine the tooth/teeth, apply fluoride varnish prevention if needed and the dentist will give you valuable information about how to take care of your child’s teeth.

    On your child’s first appointment ask the dentist:

    Is my child at risk of decay?
    • Am I cleaning my child’s teeth properly enough?
    • Does my child need a toothpaste with fluoride or without fluoride?
    • What are the benefits of fluoride? What are the harms of fluoride? How can I and my child gain the benefits and prevent the harms of fluoride?
    • What is Fluoride Varnish? And Fissure Sealants?
    • When will the other teeth erupt?
    • Till when can I use a pacifier with my child?
    • What are the good foods and what are the bad foods for teeth?
    • When should I move to a sippy cup instead of a bottle?
    • When should I bring my child again to see you?

    From the age of one year old

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes.
  • Children at this age cannot spit out properly, so use little amount of toothpaste, a smear layer or the size of a grain of rice is enough. The little amount of toothpaste that is swallowed does not carry risks on health.
  • When the child turns three years old, they can better spit out and you can begin using a little more toothpaste. Around the size of a pea.
  • Encourage healthy eating and drinking
  • Avoid juices and artificially sweetened foods and drinks. Offer whole fruits instead.
  • Children copy their parents. Remember to model good behavior.
  • Do not use unhealthy foods as rewards or bribes
  • Do not use the words dentist or injection or any other as threats for your child or the siblings
  • Try to reduce the night feeds.
  • Try to space out meals.
  • Offer sippy cups instead of bottles with nipple when you can.
  • Take the child to the dentist once a year or as frequently as your dentists recommends.

Preventive dental visits:

  • Provide parents and caregivers with knowledge on how to care and prevent dental problems.
  • Allows the dentist to examine the teeth and identify any issues early. This allows early intervention which stops disease progression and saves the child from feeling pain, attending long dental visits and losing teeth sooner than expected.
  • Helps the child create a positive image about the dentist, and helps them know from early age that teeth health is part of general health.

For pregnant women:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day at least, for two minutes using a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Use a dental floss once a day.
  • If you experience morning sickness, vomiting or acid reflux- delay using your toothbrush for 30 to 40 minutes. Brushing the teeth immediately when the mouth is acidic may harm the teeth. Instead, drink some water, apply some toothpaste immediately without a toothbrush, use a mouthwash, or just rinse your mouth with water.
  • Visit the dentist one time, at least, during your pregnancy.
  • A dental visit during pregnancy is safe and important.
  • A mother can transmit the caries causing bacteria to her newborn.
  • The growing baby does not take calcium from your teeth and does not cause them to fall or decay.
  • During pregnancy, hormonal changes, morning sickness, changes in eating habits, and deprioritizing oral health can cause some problems in the mouth including inflammation in the gingivae (gums). This is normal and it will resolve on its own when the mother resumes the daily oral hygiene and delivers the baby. Visit the dentist if you have concerns.
 

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