Take steps to a perfect smile for baby

Great teeth perfect your sweetie’s smile. Paediatric dentist Dr Tabitha Chng from Thomson Specialist Dentistry tells you how.

When do babies get their first teeth?

Baby’s first tooth, usually a bottom incisor, can be expected at around 6 months of age. Children should have a total of 20 baby teeth by age 3, including canines and molars.

Which teeth are the most important?

All baby teeth are important! Besides chewing, teeth play great importance in the development of speech and oral-facial muscles. A pleasant smile boosts self-confidence and plays a part in the ability to socialise. By the way, the last baby tooth may only fall out around 11 to 12 years old.

How should I take care of my baby's teeth?

You should start cleaning your baby’s mouth even before any teeth erupt in it. Use a soft clean moist cloth or tooth wipes to wipe your baby’s lips, gums and cheeks ― this not only removes milk residue, it helps him get used to the sensation of being cleaned. Once teeth erupt in the mouth, use a soft bristled toothbrush. Remember: Parents should help with toothbrushing until your child is about age 7!

All baby teeth are important! Besides chewing, teeth play great importance in the development of speech and oral-facial muscles.

How about toothpaste?

Parents are most concerned about the ingestion of fluoride in the toothpaste. Fluoride is an important ingredient that helps prevent dental cavities. Before a child can spit well, a fluoride-free toothpaste will suffice. Most children are able to spit fairly well by 3 or 4 years of age, when he should switch to toothpaste that has fluoride.

My baby keeps moving when I clean! Any tips?

Babies are expected to move about! You may have to try different positions to find one that suits your baby (and you!) best. Above all, safety is of top concern. In the early days, always support your baby’s head and neck well. My favourite cleaning positions include cradling him in my arms or have him lie down on a pillow or in my lap. Be patient. In time, your baby will soon get used to cleaning. If you are still unsure, ask your paediatric dentist demonstrate it to you at your next dental visit.

Turn the page to find out when bubba visit the dentist for the first time!

Photo: iStock

Contributed by: Paediatric dentist Dr Tabitha Chng from Thomson Specialist Dentistry

 

Babies--Take-steps-to-a-perfect-smile-for-baby
Illustration: Lim Jae-Lynn

Baby’s First Dental Visit

When should babies have their first dental visit?

Babies should have their first dental visit within six months of the eruption of their first tooth or before their first birthday. This guideline has been adopted by both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Academy of Pediatrics.

What’s a paediatric dentist?

A paediatric dentist is a specialist dentist who has received three years of additional training after dental school. They are the experts in all aspects of paediatric dental care for kids aged 0 to 18, including children with special needs.

Paediatric dentists also understand that every child is a unique individual with different needs. Their keen understanding of child psychology allows them to communicate effectively with any child and their diverse knowledge allows them to customise a dental plan specifically suited to your child’s needs.

Baby teeth help to guide the adult teeth into the jaw.

What happens at the first dental visit?

Most dental problems such as tooth decay are the result of incorrect dental habits. I spend time talking to parents to identify and modify any dental or feeding habits that may put their child at risk of dental disease. Parental education is the emphasis of these early visits.

A detailed dental examination is performed. This may help pick up initial signs of tooth decay which are reversible but only if caught early. Any treatment or advice given is tailored for each child’s individual needs.

Did you say tooth decay in kids? I’ve never heard of children getting tooth decay!

Unfortunately, almost 60 per cent of preschoolers in Singapore suffer pain and infection from tooth decay, otherwise known as early childhood caries. This is more than one in two kids! Left untreated, the decay will spread to the adult teeth, destroying not just their baby smiles, but their smiles for life. Prevent this by scheduling your baby’s first dental visit early. As paediatric dentists, we love nothing more than to help get you on the right dental track early and work alongside you to protect your baby’s perfect smile forever!

Will my baby need braces?

While genetics plays a big part in determining overall tooth alignment, the best thing parents can do is to keep baby’s teeth healthy! Baby teeth help to guide the adult teeth into the jaw. Prolonged habits like pacifier or thumb sucking can also negatively affect your child’s beautiful smile.

Contributed by: Paediatric dentist Dr Tabitha Chng from Thomson Specialist Dentistry

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