An estimated 50 million school hours are lost nationwide owing to dental-related illnesses. This less-known fact was revealed by dentists at a training programme for teachers organised by the Indian Dental Association (IDA), Dakshina Kannada branch, at the Indian Medical Association Hall here on Friday.

The programme focused on training primary school teachers on various aspects of dental care and maintenance of oral hygiene, and prevention of dental diseases.

Sanjay Nayak Sujeer, chief coordinator for the district leg of the IDA-Colgate School Dental Health Programme, said that dental diseases were more prevalent in the age group of 4-11. The ideal way to tackle them was through precautions. Parents approached a doctor only when their child complained of pain. Bad breath, mouth sores, tooth erosion, tooth sensitivity and unattractive smile were common in children.

Vijaya Hegde, head of the Department of Community Dentistry, A.J Institute of Dental Sciences, said biofilms, also called plaque, could lead to gingivitis which, if untreated, could develop into a destructive form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. The tissues that supported the teeth could be affected. She suggested measures such as regular checkups, limited intake of sugar, healthy eating habits, and brushing teeth twice a day to prevent various diseases.

Rajni George, assistant professor, Department of Community Dentistry, A.J. Institute of Dental Sciences, said it was important to take care of children's teeth as missing tooth could affect their self-confidence and lead to psychological problems.

Dr. George said most people ignored problems related to primary tooth with the view that it would naturally go, which was not correct. Over use of feeding bottles, pacifiers dipped in honey and thumb-sucking could lead to tooth decay in children.

Justifying the reason for choosing primary school teachers for the training programme, Dr. Nayak said: “Children listen more to their teachers than their parents. Besides, one teacher can directly communicate and pass on the information to hundreds of students at a time.”

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