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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Do not ignore warning signs

Very recently there was a health camp at my son's school where they prepared a health card for every kid and gave good suggestions to keep healthy. Though everything in my son's report was normal, what struck out was his dental examination that pointed out cavities and yellow teeth. These two observations on the surface of it did not look ominous but when delved deeper, gave alarming signals. We decided to teach our kid through simple activities, the importance of not neglecting warning signs when it came to oral health . For a five year old any thing that is preaching , sounds like a lecture or has lots of verbosity will fall flat, so the ways and means had to be interestingly chosen.

The following weekend was relatively free and we choose to prepare a list of food items and go shopping. I asked my son what would he like to buy for the week ahead and here is what he had to say. 'I need Juices , Milk , Cereals , Chips , Candies , Ice creams , Soft drinks and Snacks'. Well we would buy all of those but only when you are able to tell us why you like each of them ?? 'Daddy !! I like Orange juice , Milk will make me strong , Ice creams have fruit and nut in them , Candies are sweet and Sprite has bubbles in it'. We were happy that our kid had at least some logic to his liking.

Cookies are not good for teeth
Cookies are not good for teeth
'That's wonderful son ! So can we say you like sweet things the most, isn't it? Is it the sweet taste that lasts in your mouth for long that you like ?' Yes ! pat came our son's reply. 'I see ! Let's go shopping but remember that the long lasting sweetness from foods like candies , cakes , chocolates is because they stick to your teeth longer and decay them.' The first warning sign had been touched upon and we were happy to have impressed the fact upon our kid. 

We reached the shopping complex and as a routine we were subjected to frisking , scanning bags and security check. It struck to me why not ask my kid what he understood from this exercise.'Do you know what these uncles in uniform are doing here ?' Interestingly, he could quickly relate it with the security in his school and his response was pretty straight. 'Daddy they are checking if every baby is holding his Mumma's hands , stands in a line and is carrying his ID card.'

We smiled at his innocence and we all agreed on the fact that guards and gatekeepers were there to check identities and maintain discipline and order. 'So can we say that the gatekeeper has the right to allow or disallow you within the premises?' My son agreed and the importance of gatekeeper's function was illustrated.  The second distinction between permissible and non permissible objects was easily explained.

Healthy Eating for a long life
Healthy Eating for a long life
After we completed our shopping the obvious halt was at the food court and as per my son's liking, before  'Domino's Pizza' . Though we believe in simple eating , less calories intake , minimum of oils but once in a while snacking is not overruled. These choices are predominantly dictated by our son and thanks to eye catching advertisements there is no option to run away. We ordered a large pizza, garlic bread accompanied by coke . I delegated a task to my kid to make him realize what unhealthy eating was. 'Please tear off the ingredients label from coke and pizza box' and our son happily obliged. Trans fats , Cholesterol ,Sugars ,Calories were clearly popping out from Cheese, Extra toppings and aerated drink .

Watch for Nutrition Level on Snacks
Watch for Nutrition Level on Snacks
Upon reaching home i opened my son's dental check up report and tried drawing a parallel with the day's learning. 'You see the doctor tells us that your teeth have cavities and they are yellowing. Sweet food like candies and cakes are sticking to your teeth and giving germs extra time to harm them and create cavities. The snacks that you ate in the food court has  lots of Trans fats and Sugars that are also bad for teeth. Your mouth is like a gatekeeper that has to choose between healthy and unhealthy food. Even the yellowing of your teeth is due to acids that these germs produce.' .

'So how do i make my teeth healthy again daddy ??'
My kids face bore a sad and worried look. I had to have simple answer to his long question. 'Simple ! Brush twice a day, eat less of sugary and fast foods , and rinse your mouth well after every meal'. My suggestions looked simple and do able to my son and he promptly agreed to take these simple steps.

Teaching our kid oral care at an early stage was a necessity and thanks to the warning signs that we decided to take the situation head on. Stories or activities that have simple morals , learning and takeaways are easy to grasp and a corrective action can be taken timely. To read about Colgate's products , articles on complete oral care please visit the blog My Healthy Speak.