If you think it’s okay to overlook your kids’ oral hygiene since the milk teeth will fall out, think again. Starting your kids off with good dental care from a young age will go a long way. In fact, one of the biggest dental problems that kids have is Early Childhood Caries (ECC). Dr Stephanie Yap, Dental Surgeon at The Dental Studio, a subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group (SMG), will tell us more.
Previously termed as “baby bottle tooth decay” or “nursing caries”, ECC, as we now understand is the process of decay that is independent of the route of feeding.
“ECC typically results in severe tooth mobidity and extensive restorative treatment needs due to loss of tooth surfaces or even the teeth as a whole,” says Dr Yap.
ECC or normal decay typically forms as white spots along the gum line. This may progress as a small surface defect and consequently a frank cavity. If not treated early, the cavity may progress to the vital tissues of the tooth that may cause pain, difficulty in chewing/speaking.
How to Prevent ECC?
- Improve oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing. If your child is too young to brush his own teeth, do brush it for them and gradually teach them to brush their own teeth under your supervision
- Alter feeding practices: ensure your child does not go straight to bed after feeding as this allows milk product to pool around teeth and gives the bacteria time to initiate the breakdown of teeth during his sleep
- Encourage the use of a smear of fluoride toothpaste during your child’s tooth brushing regime. Also encourage him to spit the toothpaste and not swallow it.
Have Regular Dental Check-ups
Talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit when your baby’s first teeth appears. Treat the first dental visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s physician. Remember: starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.
Use Flouride Toothpaste
For children younger than 3 years, parents should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.
For children 3 to 6 years of age, parents and caregivers should dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. If your child is brushing his/her own teeth, they should be supervised to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
5 Easy Oral Health Tips For Kids To Follow
- Brush their teeth twice daily. Once in the morning once at night.
- Use extra-soft bristled toothbrushes with a small head to brush your teeth.
- Use a smear of adult toothpastes to strengthen the outermost layer of the teeth.
- Save candies and other sweet treats just after mealtimes, but not snacking throughout the day and in between main meals.
- Offer water rather than sweet and fizzy drinks when they are thirsty.