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Do’s and Dont’s of looking after your children’s first teeth

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 DO:

  • Bring your child for regular visits to the dentist for check ups and cleans
  • Ensure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day – after breakfast and before bed.
  • Use the correct size toothbrush for the age of your child. This will be indicated on the package.
  • Use the right toothpaste for the age of your child. For children aged 0-6 years use a toothpaste specific for this age group as it contains less fluoride and often a more kid friendly taste. After the age of 6 a pea size of adult toothpaste is recommended.
  • Do floss – flossing should be introduced as soon as the second deciduous molars are through.  Care in between the back teeth is very important because this is where decay is most commonly seen.
  • Drink tap water and milk. Tap water in Singapore contains fluoride which is essential to healthy development of teeth at all ages. Milk (always check powdered milk to ensure that it does not contain sugar) is another healthy choice of beverage as long as there are no sweet additives.
  • Follow your dentist’s advice; the need for treatment on milk teeth can be greatly reduced and often prevented.

DON’T:

  • Give cordials, soft drinks or add any sugary drinks in a bottle because these can cause heavy decay especially if taken to bed.
  • Give fruit juices unless they are diluted.
  • Give Coke, (or other similar soft drinks) it is highly acidic and contains sugar even the diet/low cal drinks.
  • Give lots of sweet sticky foods – encourage healthy snack options such as fruit.
  • Eat frequent snacks. Try restricting eating to mealtimes only.

If your child doesn’t  like brushing

Of course, some children just don’t like brushing. Try cleaning your teeth at the same time – doing things together will get them inspired. Or better still, turn brushing into a game where you brush each other’s teeth. We also have a fun ‘egg-timer’ we give out which times how long children should brush which we find makes it more fun.

Dr Dianne Sainsbury
BDS (Otago)

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