A STUDY carried out by an academic at the Fiji National University's College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences has shown that dental health care among children should start before they turn one.
Associate Professor Temalesi King said her research — based on a review of a collection of dental health literature among children — had shown little was known of the consequences of bottle feeding and breastfeeding on a child's teeth.
"There has been a lot of studies on prevention of early childhood dental carriers and tooth decay, a lot of studies regarding adults but there has been very little done on infants, on young babies and my research found that only one similar study has been carried out in the world and that was in Tehran, there was none in other parts of the world including Fiji," said Prof King.
"In Fiji we have a very longstanding school dental service where mobile dental clinics go to each school to carry out awareness programs and to check the dental health of each student. But what I have found is that there are no records of dental health in infants."
She said bottle feeding children contributed to tooth decay.
"We've only gone into breastfeeding now and it's starting to become a very big thing now but before that it was all about bottle feeding and in bottle feeding we are providing nutrients to the bacteria all the time so when the babies are sleeping, we give them a bottle to keep them from crying.
"With that, decay is ongoing, and if that kind of habit is established, there is bound to be some bad outcomes. So when children go to school, they already have tooth decay and that's where children are seen and inspected and that's also where the health system comes in," she said.
Professor King said her research highlighted that the health system on dental health care for children should start from when they were babies.
"The good habits like breastfeeding should start from there. We are big on immunisation and vaccination among young infants and what my research suggests is that we should also introduce this kind of preventative measure for dental health among children.
"We should monitor the health of child's teeth from when they are still infants and also apply preventative tooth decay measures."