Childhood tooth decay linked to adult oral problems


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Childhood tooth decay is an important indicator for adult oral disease, a dentist said at a National Oral Health Week activity to promote dental health care to all age groups.

Bad dental habits from childhood will affect dental health later in life, said Chiu Yao-chang, a committee member of the Taiwan Dental Association, at the National Taiwan Science Education Center in Taipei.

Cavities mostly begin to appear before kids start going to school and after 10th grade, Chiu noted.

He explained that from elementary school to 9th grade, school children learn to brush their teeth after meals and are given fluoridated water, which helps prevent tooth decay. However, most children then slacken off on oral hygiene, leading to adult oral disease.

He also warned that oral problems can be transferred across generations when adults kiss or feed their infants, passing on the bacteria in their mouths to their children.

A study published by the Bureau of Health Promotion in 2004 found some 70 percent of Taiwan’s pre-schoolers had an average of 5.5 cavities.

Over 99 percent of adults aged 18 and older in another study conductedin 2008 were diagnosed with different degrees of periodontitis, a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the gum tissue around the teeth.