A recent article reported 40% of dental caries or tooth decay in preschoolers in Singapore from ages three to six. With such a staggering number, it is time to get serious on dental care for toddlers.
One common misconception that milk teeth are not important was refuted by Dr. Rashid Tahir, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the faculty of dentistry at the National University of Singapore in the same article. No doubt milk teeth will eventually be replaced with permanent teeth, but the loss of too many premature milk teeth may result in biting and chewing difficulties, and in more severe cases, even temporary speech issues.
Hence, it is never too early to inculcate good oral habits in children. In fact, caring for kids’ teeth should start when the first baby tooth appears between 4-6 months old which is about the time they start on solid food.
For starters, parents can get the little ones used to having their teeth cleaned with a fingertip toothbrush or with extra-soft bristles with a dab of non-fluoride toothpaste. By age one, children should have already made their first visit with the dentist.
So, what’s next? After your baby transitions into the next phase, you can still enforce daily dental care for toddlers to ensure those pearly whites are well taken care of.
Read on for some tips on caring for kids’ teeth.
Read also: Proven Tips to Help Your Kids Grow Taller
Caring for kids’ teeth: Tips that work
1. Brushing twice a day
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time.
Mainly because plaque (leftover bits of food that is mixed with the bacteria inside your mouth) is constantly being produced, brushing helps to get rid of that problem including tartar buildup. Not to mention how brushing also prevents bad breath, keeps your teeth whiter and your gums healthier.
When two of your child’s teeth touch each other, it is time to introduce flossing. Make brushing fun by singing a song, introducing a friendly competition with a sibling or modelling daddy or mummy.
2. Review and check
Ensure you use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a soft head that fits nicely into your child’s small mouth. Introducing a toothpaste that contains at least 1000 parts per million (ppm) fluoride may also be possible if toddlers are under constant adult supervision.
Remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are irregular or splayed.
3. Let them choose
Giving toddlers the autonomy to choose a toothbrush with their favourite cartoon character motivates brushing. The little ones will feel more willing to brush their teeth.
4. Visit the dentist regularly
Make regular visits to the dentist (every six months) a family affair. Regular dental visits from young allow the dentist to train and encourage the little ones to observe good oral hygiene.
More importantly, regular dental visits are crucial preventive health care where part of it includes evaluating your child’s risk of tooth decay. Early detection of problems especially when they are in the treatable stage will help you save money in the long run.
5. Avoid the bottle
If you don’t already practice this, never give a bottle with sugary drinks (milk or juice) to your toddlers just before bedtime. Don’t give bacteria the optimal environment to manifest in your child’s mouth during sleep.
6. A healthy diet
While it is important to observe the necessary dental care for toddlers cited above, it is useless if a healthy diet is not in place. As part of caring for kids’ teeth, sugary food and drinks should be limited. Encourage your toddler to drink plenty of water and avoid frequent unhealthy snacking.
Dental care for toddlers is a lifelong investment with payouts of a healthy smile and a confident speaker. Start being committed to caring for your kids’ teeth from young and they will thank you in the years to come.