Dr. Akash Paul
My eight-year-old daughter loves eating chocolate. This has led to teeth decay. Should we restrict her from eating chocolate?
— Shilpi Khanna, Pune
Bacteria in the mouth feed on the excess sugar of chocolate, turning it into acids, which cause dental cavities. It’s advisable to restrict her from eating chocolates for some time. But chocolate is not the only food that causes tooth decay. Residue of all foods and beverages can cause plaque. To prevent cavities, you need to make brushing teeth at least twice a day an integral part of her daily routine.
My 15-year-old son eats paan occasionally. Is this dangerous?
— Mira Bai, Delhi
Paan contains tobacco, which is harmful for everyone, especially children. It can cause several ailments including dental, psychiatric, gastro-intestinal, cardiac, addictive and carcinogenic. Instruct him to stop consumption immediately. If at any time you feel he is addicted, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor or psychiatrist.
My five-year-old daughter plays with sand and often puts her hand in her mouth. What should I do?
— Vimala Singh, Mumbai
This is normal behaviour in children. Playing in sand is good for developing motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and strengthening muscles. It also aids intellectual development and builds immunity. So don’t interrupt her sand play.
But it’s also important to inculcate good hygiene habits. Germs reside everywhere. Remind her frequently that it’s not advisable to put unwashed hands in the mouth. Stick a bandage on her fingers to remind her not to put fingers in the mouth. Explain to her that she could fall ill.
My 15-year-old daughter wants to be a fashion model and has begun dieting. She eats what we all do but much less. She also avoids foods such as potatoes and ghee. Will this affect her health and well-being?
— Bina Mathew, Trivandrum
Children need a balanced diet to develop bones, brain, and all organs. Not eating enough raises the risk of poor brain development, cognitive deficiency, and susceptibility to infections and diseases.
To maintain an athletic body, children should take up physical fitness and sports activities such as cycling, climbing, yoga, dance, Zumba, and such. Nutritious meals are essential for developing a healthy physique. Also advise her to avoid junk food.
(Dr. Akash Paul is general physician, Pillar Hospital, Port Blair)