Parents with young children should pay extra attention to the teeth and oral hygiene of children, especially following the candy-centric Halloween holiday, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said.
A health survey conducted in 2011 showed that 78.3 percent of Taiwanese five-year-olds have dental caries, an infection caused by bacteria that can lead to cavities. While the prevalence of caries in 2011 decreased by 10 percent from the figure recorded in 1997 — 89.4 percent — it is still much higher than the 50 percent rate of tooth decay among five-year-olds benchmark set by the WHO in 2000, the administration said.
Evidence suggests that reducing the amount and frequency of a child’s sugary beverage intake; brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, with one time being before bedtime; and having a dentist apply fluoride to a child’s teeth every six months are effective at preventing dental decay among children, the administration said.
However, a 2009 health survey showed that more than 70 percent of children younger than 12 answered “yes” when asked if they had consumed at least one 240ml glass of sugary drinks the previous day.
The 2009 survey found that many of the kids polled did not practice good oral hygiene, with those younger than 12 saying they brush their teeth an average of 1.48 times to 1.97 times a day.
The survey also found that only between 75 percent and 84.9 percent of respondents brushed their teeth before going to bed, meaning that as many as 25 percent have not developed the most important tooth brushing habit.
The administration said that although data from last year show that 47.4 percent of children aged between three and five had fluoride applied at least once that year — a rise from the 39.4 percent seen the previous year — the figure meant that more than 50 percent of parents failed to take their children to get the treatment.