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LETTER | Guard your teeth during festive and rainy seasons

LETTER | The festive and holiday season is a time of joy, family gatherings, delicious food, and celebration. However, as the end-of-year holiday period approaches, it coincides with the rainy season, increasing the risk of accidents.

For example, the combination of wet roads and congested traffic elevates the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents, posing a risk of trauma for both adults and children alike.

Recognising that children, unlike adults, require additional protection due to their playful and energetic nature, makes them more vulnerable to accidents resulting in dental injuries.

Research indicates that common causes of these injuries include falls, fights, sports activities, and collisions. The scientific literature shows that dental and maxillofacial injuries impact approximately 20 to 30 percent of permanent teeth.

Accidents resulting from falls or collisions can cause hard tissue injuries such as chipped or knocked-out teeth, fractured jaws, and soft tissue injuries such as lacerations, leading to pain and distress for both the child and their parents.

Moreover, motor vehicle accidents peak during holiday and rainy seasons, further elevating the risk of dental and maxillofacial trauma.

These injuries have significant implications for aesthetics, functionality, psychological well-being, and economic factors.

For instance, falls causing tooth avulsion may result in difficulty in chewing and speaking. Psychologically, it can lead to self-consciousness, social isolation, and anxiety among children.

Socially, children may face teasing and avoidance of social events in the future due to missing or fractured teeth resulting from trauma.

Prevention better than cure

Considering these impacts, along with the costs of treatment, emphasises the importance of prevention in reducing the risk of injuries.

Preventive strategies include parental and adult supervision, especially in environments where the risk of trauma is high for kids.

Being aware of the child’s activities can prevent accidents before they occur. Providing children with appropriate footwear, reminding them to walk carefully, and supervising their activities can significantly reduce the risk of falls.

Creating a safe environment, both indoors and outdoors, is also crucial. For example, removing obstacles, installing childproof locks on cabinets or drawers containing sharp objects, covering sharp edges of furniture with corner protectors, and using non-slip rugs indoors can minimise the risk of accidents.

Encouraging safe play and teamwork, and promoting the use of helmets and mouthguards during sports, provide an additional layer of protection.

Set good examples, cut the sugar

In addition, parents or adults can set an example for children by avoiding using teeth as a tool to open packages or bottle caps.

During holiday and festive events, it’s tempting to rely on our teeth for quick fixes, but these habits increase the risk of chipping teeth and injuring the mouth and lips.

The festive season also brings an abundance of sugary treats and beverages. While enjoying these treats is part of the celebration, promoting moderation is crucial.

Limiting the intake of sugary snacks and beverages is essential for maintaining a healthy balanced diet that preserves both general and oral health. Encouraging good oral hygiene practices, as well as a well-balanced diet, including calcium-rich foods like dairy products and vegetables, may strengthen teeth and reduce the risk of dental trauma.

Despite preventive measures, accidents can still occur. In such cases, seeking immediate dental attention is vital, as dental traumas often require prompt treatment for the best outcome.

As the festive season and school holidays approach, it is essential to be mindful of the increased risk of dental trauma. Let’s enjoy the holidays and festive celebrations cautiously, making sure our children participate with bright, healthy smiles, free from dental injuries. Keep these joyous occasions safe and memorable for everyone.

The writer is an associate professor at the Department of Community Oral Health and Clinical Prevention, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.