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Children of Latino heritage are more likely to develop caries and suffer from poor oral health than children from other ethnic backgrounds, a study has suggested.
Researchers from the University of California surveyed 9,000 people of mainly Mexican-American origin in the Central Valley.
They found that a number of factors influenced lower dental health, including the drop in the number of Latino dentists in the region between 1983 and 2000, the costs of dental health care, and the lack of knowledge on the part of parents.
The report said that in some cases "a lengthy delay in accessing care seriously exacerbated their need for oral health treatment and ended in referral to a specialist clinic because of the urgency or extensiveness of treatment needed".
Published in BioMed Central, the study said that parents or caregivers did not always recognise caries on their children's teeth and that low-income families often found it difficult to spare the time for repeat dental health visits.
Dental caries are infectious and lead eventually to dental health problems like decay and cavities. Early childhood caries often appear as a result of allowing children to drink sugary beverages too frequently or for long periods of time.
The American Dental Association advises never letting children fall asleep with a bottle in their mouths, avoiding giving them sugary drinks in general, and cleaning gums or first teeth after feeding.
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