Brush together, twice a day
Children constantly learn by imitating adults. Brush your teeth together to educate your child on the correct brushing and flossing techniques, while emphasising your commitment to oral hygiene. Besides imparting the importance of proper dental care, this is also a good way for the family to bond.
Remember to be consistent with the routine. Do not let your child skip brushing teeth, no matter how sleepy he or she is.
Good oral habits should begin even before baby’s first tooth. You can wipe your baby’s gums at least twice a day with a soft wet washcloth wrapped around your index finger. Make this step a part of your little one’s daily routine to ease his transition to tooth brushing later on. Once your child starts teething, you can begin using a baby toothbrush with a rice grain-sized dot of fluoride toothpaste to dislodge bacteria and prevent decay. Brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Flossing can be done just once a day.
Avoid sugary snacks and drinks
Establishing healthy eating habits will go a long way in preventing dental decay. Avoid stocking up on sweets and sugar-filled drinks at home, and swop these cavity-causers for healthier options like vegetables, yoghurt, and water. If anyone gets hungry between meal times, snacks such as cheese cubes and hard-boiled eggs make yummy and healthy substitutes.
As an extra precaution, teach your child to rinse his mouth or brush his teeth after eating, especially after consuming sweets or junk food.
Do not share common items
Many people do not realise that decay is an infection that can be passed easily from one person to another by sharing food, utensils, toothbrushes or straws. Teaching kids not to share these items will help prevent the spread of germs that cause tooth decay. Furthermore, saliva transfer from a harmless kiss on baby’s mouth or blowing on hot food can also transmit cavity-causing bacteria. Parents who have a high incidence of tooth decay should seek dental treatment and avoid these behaviours as a preventive measure.
Visit the dentist by your child’s first birthday
Experts recommend scheduling your little one’s first dental appointment after the first tooth appears or by the age of one. Early visits can help your child develop a positive attitude towards dental visits.
It is essential to prepare your child for his first dental appointment to alleviate any fear. Reading fun picture books about going to the dentist is a great way to guide young ones through what they may experience during their time there.
On the actual day of the appointment, allow your child to observe parents or older siblings getting on the dental chair first. It may take a while before he learns that there is nothing to be afraid of, so resist the impulse to scold or hover over your child. The dentist and the assistant are specially trained to handle children’s uncooperative behaviour, so remain calm and let the professionals handle the visit.
Maintain twice-yearly dental appointments
Regular check-ups can help to detect dental problems before they become too severe. Chronic dental diseases such as Early Childhood Caries (ECC) are common in Singapore, and your child may have tooth decay even if there are no signs or symptoms. Early intervention and preventive measures allow children to avoid traumatic dental experiences.
Make dentist trips even more fun by scheduling appointments together as a family. It encourages everyone (yes, even mum and dad) to maintain good oral health.