Just because baby teeth are meant to drop out doesn’t mean it’s okay to let them to rot. First teeth are important as they’re needed for eating, speaking and smiling, points out Dr Trevor Holcombe, a paediatric dentist at Smilefocus.
Early childhood caries, specifically, tooth decay before the age of 6, is a rising concern in Singapore, dentists say. The National Dental Centre Singapore which treated 500 children for early childhood caries in 2000, saw this number double to 1,000 in 2012. Beware that incorrect bottle-feeding habits may cause front-tooth decay.
Discomfort from tooth decay can adversely affect a child’s health, sleep patterns and behaviour.
Tooth decay: The downside
Dr Holcombe notes, “When children drink fruit juices and any drink containing sugar — even milk — from the bottle or during the night, the drink remnants stay on the teeth, encouraging bacteria to build up, leading to plaque and decay.”
Discomfort from tooth decay can adversely affect a child’s health, sleep patterns and behaviour, explains Dr Yue Weng Cheu, clinical director at DP Dental. Not to mention the high cost of fillings and even root canals, and the emotional expense of your anxiety-stricken child. Prevention is better than cure and creating good dental habits is one of the best investments you can make for your child’s future.
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How to care for your baby’s teeth
1. Start caring for your baby’s pearly whites even before they become apparent. At around 6 months of age when bubba is typically teething, use a clean washcloth to gently clean her gums every day.
2. Once teeth start to erupt, clean them gently with a toothbrush that has a small head and soft bristles. Don’t use any toothpaste until junior is used to the idea of the toothbrush.
3. Then use a blob of baby-friendly paste smaller than a pea. Use one that doesn’t contain fluoride until your child is able to spit it out, as excess fluoride that is ingested can cause problems when adult teeth start to form. When picking a toothpaste with fluoride, pick one that contains at least 1,000ppm (parts per million) of fluoride, for maximum efficacy.
First teeth are important as they’re needed for eating, speaking and smiling.
4. Brush your little one’s teeth twice a day, in the morning and at night. Use circular movements, concentrating on the area where the teeth meet the gum.
5. Schedule your sweetie’s first dental visit <hyperlink to “Your child’s first dental visit” once uploaded> once his first few teeth arrive, which is ideally at between 12 and 18 months of age.
6. Do continue to help junior to brush her teeth as she won’t have the dexterity to do a good job until she’s about 10 years old.
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