DEVELOPING GOOD EATING HABITS AND PREVENTION OF DENTAL CARIES
The adequacy of food in terms of nutrients not only depends on food available to the children but also on the food environment and models set for them by their peers, siblings, parents and other elders in the family.
Use of convenience foods by mothers and entry of fast foods have had a great impact on the food preferences of children. Hence nutrition knowledge of parents incorporated into meal planning is important in imparting positive attitudes towards food. The environment at the eating place also affects the nutrient intake while a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere is conducive to good eating. Arguments and family fights while eating affects the food intake adversely.
Advertising and television have a very strong influence on type of food chosen by children. Exposure to these and catchy slogans like 'chocolate', 'yummy', 'rich' tempt children to go in for processed foods and distort their liking and curiousity for natural flavour and colour of foods.
Tooth decay can be caused by caries. This can occur in children who are susceptible to and whose integrity of tooth structure may be affected by nutritional deficiency. Vitamin A is necessary for enamel and Vitamin C is essential for dentine. Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are needed for calcification. Fluorine decreases susceptibility of caries. Fermentable carbohydrate which adheres to the tooth is the major cause of tooth decay. The stickier the food and longer it stays in the mouth the greater is the effect. Thorough cleaning of mouth after each meal and developing the habit of brushing twice a day, early morning and before bed, might prevent dental caries. Fig 5A. presents a picture of dental caries.