Healthy teeth and gums are vital to your child's general health. Your little one's teeth is fragile, so it's important that you start their dental journey early.
Early dental visits pave the way for building good dental habits for your child, which will benefit him/her all lifelong. Dr Tabitha Chng, an experienced paediatric dentist, hosted a DxD Session and answered many useful questions from readers about baby & kids dental health issues.
Here's what she had to share.
Tooth decay is rampant in Singapore
Tooth decay is a very real issue for our children in Singapore today. More than half of all children in Singapore have one or more rotten teeth by the time they start primary school!
It's imperative that parents take steps to prevent this situation from worsening.
What should parents do?
Parents should establish cleaning and eating habits for their children very early on. This is the key to preventing tooth decay.
Once their teeth have emerged, you should start using a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the teeth at least twice a day.
Of course, their diet plays a part too. Sugary foods and drinks need to be limited as well, no matter how many tantrums they throw.
It's never too early to start brushing their teeth!
Wondering if there’s an appropriate age when brushing teeth is considered safe? Dr Tabitha has some news for you. It's never too early!
In fact, you can even start with brushing their gums first! Starting even before their teeth emerge can help them to get used to the sensations of tooth cleaning early.
Early brushing helps with emerging teeth
Sometimes, your children might feel a slight discomfort or "itch" when a tooth is about to emerge. This is a common occurrence during the teething phase.
Using a toothbrush to scrub that area gently can actually be quite soothing and enjoyable for them.
The silicone-type finger brush works well for baby teeth
This is a popular choice amongst many parents. If your baby(s) frequently explores things by biting on them, there are numerous teething-type toothbrushes that can withstand those little chompers.
Don't forget to clean the tongue!
Babies usually have a lot of milk residue that builds up on the tongue, because they don't produce enough saliva to clear it.
This can lead to them having bad breath that might take your breath away! So, always remember to brush their tongues well.
Yes, your children can use toothpaste with fluoride
Worried about giving your toddlers fluoride-based toothpaste? Good news, they are unfounded!
Dr Tabitha gives toothpaste that contains fluoride the greenlight. She says that using a fluoride containing toothpaste is certainly helpful in limiting the progression of further tooth decay.
However, it's important that you pick the right toothpaste
Make sure that the toothpaste you've chosen has at least 1000ppm of fluoride content! Only these are effective in decay prevention.
"My child swallowed the toothpaste, what do I do now?!"
Don't freak out just yet. Did you know that living in Singapore, we consume fluoride daily? It's found in the water that we drink to the food that's prepared.
The amount that may be accidentally swallowed while using a pea size amount of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste twice daily, the risks of using the toothpaste are generally low.
Are there risks of long term ingestion?
The biggest risk of long term ingestion in Singapore is fluorosis. This refers to white snowflake like spots on the adult teeth, which are usually only noticeable by dentists. This does not weaken the teeth. In fact, some people like it as it makes their teeth look more-white!
Hence, the benefits of using a fluoride toothpaste outweigh the 'risk'. Your child stands to gain a lot of protection from the fluoride toothpaste!
Consider non-foaming toothpaste for less swallowing
Still worried about them swallowing toothpaste? Switch to a non-foaming type instead!
According to Dr Tabitha, the root cause of foaming is sodium lauryl sulfate (commonly known as SLS). Toothpaste that creates less foam and bubbles is less prone to being swallowed.
And no, having more foam and bubbles does not mean the toothpaste cleans better!
Hold back on the fluoride if your children can't spit
If your children hasn't learned to spit properly yet, it's probably best not to use fluoride for the time being.
In the event that your children has a high risk of decay, you can either implement careful use of fluoride or other tooth-protective strategies apart from fluoride that your dentist might know of.
Watch out for baby bottle decay
Baby bottle decay is a term that dentists use to describe tooth decay in babies as a result of inappropriate milk bottle usage.
To prevent this, make sure nothing other than water or milk is placed inside the bottle and brush their teeth well after feeding.
Dentists recommend bottle weaning between ages 12-18 months
In order to prevent tooth decay, Paediatricians and paediatric dentists recommend reducing your child's dependence on the bottle through bottle weaning between 12-18 months of age.
Start them young!
Helping children develop healthy habits to care for teeth while they are young is very important! This can help to prevent many oral health problems like cavities, gum diseases, and tooth decay.
Also read: Your Child's First Dental Visit in Singapore