Q: I have a 5-year-old boy who has some oral health issues. Four of his teeth developed cavities and had to be filled. He still complains of pain frequently. He uses an Ayurvedic toothpaste but the problem still persists. Please advise.

A: It’s so sad to see children so young dealing with issues such as this. Unfortunately the problem only seems to be getting worse. Let me give you a few general suggestions and tips to sort out the issue and help in preventing them from happening in the future.

First off, stop the pain! If the teeth that have been filled are still hurting, it’s possible that the decay was so deep that it has infected the nerves inside the tooth. In this case the treatment will depend on which teeth are decayed.

If the teeth are about to fall out naturally in the near future – the front teeth usually fall around the ages of 6 or 7 – then it might be a good idea to remove them after taking an X-ray to make sure the permanent tooth is there.

If it’s the back teeth that are involved then it's best to keep the tooth and treat the infected nerve. This is because the permanent back teeth that replace the milk teeth only come out at the age of 10-12. The process of treating the nerve space inside the tooth is called a pulpectomy and it is similar to a root canal treatment, which is done on adult teeth. This decision is best made after an X-ray is taken to make sure the extent of infection. Sometimes the treatment plan can change depending on the clinical situation.

Second, prevent. Please remember that the diet of children is absolutely crucial to prevent cavities. Many so-called "cereals" for children are basically candy in a big box. They are loaded with sugar – sometimes as much as 60 per cent. Be sure to always check the labels. Keep these "cereals" for a treat – not an everyday meal. Also look out for hidden sugars – ketchup can contain up to 40 per cent sugar as well. Remember, when it comes to sugars the frequency is more important than the quantity.

Lastly, please bear in mind that toothpastes are not medicines. There is no tooth paste that can make a tooth infection vanish. They are primarily for prevention of cavities. In this regard always look for toothpastes that have fluoride because that is one of the most effective ways of preventing decay. And contrary to internet myths fluoridated toothpaste is not harmful as it is not being consumed. But be careful in giving it to very young children as they can, and frequently do, swallow it. Consult a dental professional for having your son’s teeth sorted out. All the best!

Tanveer Ahmed is an implantologist, dental surgeon and medical director at New Ivory Dental and Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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