So apart from feeding the Friedlanders, another of my mummy jobs is looking after the kiddies’ pearly whites. If like me you were wondering just how old should my kids be when I take them to the dentist for a check-up? Check out this very helpful Q&A I did with Dr Terry Teo, Paedodontist (Paediatric Dentist) of The Dental Studio, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic.
Mrs Freeloader asks: What age is the best age to take children for their first dental check-up?
Dr Teo says…American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends the first dental check-up latest by the first birthday. This is more to establish a dental home for the infant, and to educate parents on proper oral health care in their growing child. [Woops, I am a bad mummy. Missed this one by 3 years. In my non-professional mummy opinion, to get kids ‘used’ to the dentist you could always drag little ones along when you go the dentist so they get used to seeing the dentist chair, let them sit in it, and see mummy have her teeth checked and smile lots, say lots of reassuring comments and reward them with stickers for waiting patiently. I hasten to add Juliet still has all her own teeth and I have now made her appointment for the dentist next month!]
Mrs Freeloader asks: Are electric or battery-operated toothbrushes safe for children? Because mine just love using them!
Dr Teo says…Yes electric toothbrushes are safe and fun to use, because some of the kids ones have helpful timers which chime after 30 seconds, giving an indication of how long each section of the mouth should be brushed. However, all kids should be supervised in brushing up till age 6 as below that they lack the manual dexterity and discipline to properly clean all tooth surfaces.
Mrs Freeloader asks: Should children floss or use mouth rinse?
Dr Teo says…If food is always stuck between the teeth, diligent parents can floss for their child. This is important to remove plaque inter-dentally [between the teeth] as that is a common area for dental decay to develop in children and adults. Kids with lots of spacing between their teeth need not floss that often. The most important tool in prevention of decay and good oral hygiene is a fluoride toothpaste and regular brushing twice a day, especially just before bed.
Mrs Freeloader asks: Are carrots and apples good foods for children as they are crunchy and help ‘clean’ the teeth?
Dr Teo says…Yes, fresh fruit and vegetables are always preferable to sweets, chocolates and biscuits as a healthy snack. Not only do they provide more nutrition, but crunchy food stimulates saliva which has a protective effect on teeth. Beware that certain fruit such as bananas and oranges have high sugar content, and also have the potential to cause tooth decay if eaten frequently.
Mrs Freeloader asks: Is it true cheese is good to eat for protecting teeth as it inhibits growth of plaque?
Dr Teo says…Yes. Cheese bacteria inhibits the growth of decay-causing bacteria. It is one of the best tooth-friendly snacks in growing kids.
Mrs Freeloader asks: Are there any ‘super-foods’ for healthy teeth and gums?
Dr Teo says…A balanced, healthy diet low in refined sugars is the best for healthy teeth, gums, and everything else in a child!
Mrs Freeloader asks: Apart from the obvious (sugar and fruit juices), are there any foods kids should avoid eating that harm their teeth?
Dr Teo says…Fizzy drinks are very devastating due to their acid content. Lots of parents think biscuits are better than sweets or chocolates, but their sugar content is equally high and they can be grainy, meaning more gets stuck onto the tooth surfaces. This encourages tooth decay formation. Infant-formula milk, especially through a bottle, is a primary cause of Early Childhood Caries or tooth decay in young children, due to the added sugars in the formulations.
Mrs Freeloader asks: What are other pointers to note or symptoms to look out for in kids?
Dr Teo says…If a child is a slow or fussy eater, be sure to clean all food away from his or her teeth after meals, as sometimes children who have a habit of keeping food in their mouths or taking very long at meal times develop decay, due to the carbohydrates in their meals breaking down into sugars after prolonged exposure on their teeth. Look out for them complaining of pain in their teeth, and difficulty eating certain foods requiring lots of chewing such as meat and fibrous vegetables.
Thank you Dr Teo for your very helpful tips. Readers, if you have anymore questions or want to book to see Dr Teo you can reach him here…