Why do children need to visit dentist from young?
The inadequate brushing and the exposure to sugary food increases the build-up of harmful bacteria. With poor feeding habits such as leaving the bottle with the baby overnight, dental caries can develop quickly in an oral environment full of harmful bacteria. Also, defective teeth are hard to detect during teething. This is why toddlers and children often have dental caries and tooth decay, teething problems and malocclusion/misaligned teeth. Among these childhood dental problems, tooth decay is the most common.
Children can be prone to poor oral hygiene and teeth decay.
Most toddlers and children under six have not developed their motor skills fully. This affects how they hold their toothbrushes, their brushing techniques which often lead to inadequate brushing. Poor feeding habits, like leaving milk bottle overnight with the baby, along with the exposure to sugary food contribute to the quick build-up of harmful bacteria around the teeth and causes teeth decay.
These dental issues put toddlers and children highly vulnerable to frequent tooth decay and dental caries, which may also lead to other dangerous health complications.
The last baby teeth need to hold their place up till the age of 12/13 years. Poor oral hygiene at a young age can often lead the tooth pain and loss of primary teeth with due to dental decay and infection. Losing them prematurely may cause alignment problems with the teeth and affect facial development.
Maintaining the health of baby teeth is important to grow healthy permanent adult teeth.
While the permanent adult teeth will eventually replace primary teeth (“baby” teeth), many may not have realised that baby teeth have important functions. The last baby teeth need to hold their place up till the age of 12 to 13. Losing them prematurely may cause alignment problems with the teeth and affect facial development.
Besides serving as space holders for permanent teeth, primary teeth are also important for eating, speech development and facial appearance. Having healthy baby teeth will usually promote better eating habits which help the children to grow an healthier set of adult teeth.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD THE CHILD VISIT THE DENTIST?
- Toddlers (0-3 years)
The primary set of teeth emerges from the front to the back of the mouth
- Pre-schoolers: 4-6 years old
Erupting of permanent teeth will push down on the roots of the primary teeth, causing the roots to dissolve. Primary teeth will lose their roots slowly and become shaky. Eventually the primary teeth will drop and will be replaced by permanent teeth. The process is known as exfoliation.
- School-age children: 7-12 years old
Exfoliation will repeatedly occur from 6 to 12 years old. By the age of 12 or 13, only the permanent teething will remain.
When should I bring my child for his/her first dental check-up?
Singapore Pediatric Dentistry Society recommends parents to bring their children for their first dental check-up within the first year of age.
During the check-up, the dentist will assess the child’s oral health and recommend individualised oral home care programme based on his/ her risks of developing tooth decay. The dentist will also advise the frequency of the visits based on the child's oral condition.
PREPARING YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE DENTAL TREATMENT
What to expect from your child's first visit to the clinic?
Our dentists are great friends to the kids! We'll start by building rapport by chatting with them to get them comfortable in a new environment. Besides, our Punggol clinic has an playing area for children and picture books to keep them occupied!
However, it is natural for children to be afraid of dental treatment. Give them some time and you will see them settle in after a few visits.
Parents can prepare their child by reading some picture books on dental visits. Children can be very perceptive, so it is better to avoid emphasizing the visit. We would advise parents to introduce dental visits as to visiting the supermarket for grocery shopping.
Dental Treatments and Restoration for Children
Prior to the treatment
Before our dentist begins the treatment, we will help the children to understand in simple terms why they should and feel better by taking good care of their teeth.
COMMON DENTAL RESTORATION AND TREATMENTS FOR CHILDREN
If the tooth is damaged/decayed beyond repair, the tooth will be extracted
Stainless Steel Crowns
These crowns are used to reinforce the weakened primary tooth for better bite and chew.
Follow up visit
After the treatment, our dentist will work with the parents and the patient on the subsequent dental care and visits to reduce the risk of the patient developing tooth decay. For the frequency of the visits, our dentist will advise as accordingly.
Inculcate Good Oral Habits
Treatment alone is never enough to have a healthy set of teeth. We have to encourage our children to practice good oral habits from young. That's why our dentists will dedicate time after every treatment to go through proper brushing techniques and other teeth caring habits to ensure they can take care of their own teeth when they grow up.
How can you take care of your child's teeth?
Parents may introduce good dental habits to the child when the child is born. Before the first child teeth erupts, parents can start by cleaning the baby’s mouth and gum pads with a washcloth or oral wipes. Maintaining good oral hygiene at the gum pads can reduces the bad oral bacteria build up in the mouth.
When the baby’s teeth erupt, parents can begin toothbrushing with finger brush. Once the primary molars have erupted, parents may use a small soft toothbrush with a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste (<500ppm). Brushing should be done twice a day.
It is best that the parents to help the child with the toothbrushing until his/her motor skills is more developed, and he/she can rinse and spit consistently.
Children should start brushing with a thin smear of non-fluoridated toothpaste until 7-8 years old. Unless the child can spit and has very poor oral hygiene with rampant caries, we would often advise parents to purchase small soft toothbrush and non-fluoridated toothpaste for their kids. Excessive fluoride in oral cavity can lead to fluorosis and causes spots in adult teeth. These fluorosis spots have brittle weakness.
As the child grows, the gaps between teeth become smaller. The technique of flossing may be introduced to the child. A floss holder is a suitable alternative for little fingers. To have protect their teeth and good oral health, children should brush and floss twice a day under the supervision of their parents.
Thumbsucking at an early age is common. Most children tend to outgrow this habit in about 3 1/2 years old. When thumb sucking persists after age 4, the pressures of thumb sucking may force the teeth out of position and affect the upper jaw development. When it continues till the upper permanent teeth are erupted, the situation becomes more serious as it may lead to deformation of growth of the upper front part of the mouth and affects the alignment of the front teeth.
Breastmilk or infant formula provides most of the nutrients for a baby’s growth. Whether it is breast milk, cow’s milk, soy or regular formula, all of these fluids contain natural sugars which, if allowed to be in prolonged contact with the teeth, will cause decay of the baby teeth.
It is advised not to put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or allow the child to nurse at the breast throughout the night. This can lead to nursing/bottle decay. If possible, wipe down the teeth with a damp cloth or toothbrush after the night feeds.
At AllSmiles, our dentists focus on delivering the most gentle, comfortable and reassuring dental care to children with their dental needs in mind.
We understand that children respond best when we give them patience, humour, gentleness and respect. Come and visit us and let us help your children keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Parents may use their child’s Child Development Account (CDA) to offset the treatment cost at AllSmiles Dental Care Punggol only.
Singapore Pediatric Dentistry Society recommends parents to bring their children of no more than 12 months old to visit the dentist. The dentist will assess the child’s oral health and advise the parents on home based oral care to prevent tooth decay.
If the child’s impression of their first dental visit is only about resolving pain, this will complicate the rest of the procedure and the future ones. Since the first visit is already unpleasant, the experience leaves a bad impression for the child. Rebuilding their trust and confidence toward future dental visits will be harder. We hope to instill the importance of looking after our teeth in young children and guide them to a lifetime of good oral health.
Getting their teeth checked and cleaned can be a fun and non-threatening activity, especially for a child with a fresh slate. We will also chat about diet and oral hygiene. We hope to protect those baby teeth and prevent the need for children to get any unpleasant dental experiences or go through general anaesthetic.
As the circumstances vary among the individuals with their ages, it is best to consult the dentist to assess the growing teeth.
The upper front teeth will be affected first. Brown spots, chalky white discolouration or small holes may appear in the surface of the teeth.
We encourage parents to lift the upper lip to check the condition of these teeth. Consult a dentist for a thorough assessments and treatment plan.