Every parent wants their little one to grow strong and healthy teeth – and keep them! Australian DR FRANCINE CHIA, from Smilefocus dentist clinic, gives us four tips on supporting healthy habits in young ones. As a mum herself, she’s a friendly kids’ dentist in the know, including when it’s time to seek advice from a Singapore orthodontist.
#1 Early intervention – when to visit a dentist clinic
Your child’s first visit to a dentist clinic in Singapore can be anywhere between the age of one and two years. “A good rule of thumb is to make sure you go by the time the milk teeth including most of the molars are through (16 to 20 teeth),” says Dr Chia. Before that, teeth should be cleaned with a damp cloth or finger as soon as they appear. Building a good relationship with a kids’ dentist clinic from a young age will reap lifelong benefits. Not only will you obtain advice on home dental care and diet, but potential dental problems can be picked up before they become serious. According to Dr Chia, “early diagnosis of developmental dental problems such as crooked teeth or poor bite will help your child achieve a healthy smile.” It’s much easier, quicker and less invasive to prevent than to fix problems, she explains. And we can let you know when it’s time to consult with a Singapore orthodontist.
#2 Preventing dental anxiety – get your child to a dentist clinic
An enjoyable dental or Singapore orthodontist visit starts at home. What you say and do as a parent can help your child have a positive first experience. Remember, this is a routine visit, so be low-key. Answer any questions honestly but not specifically. “Leave it to the dentist to explain the procedures using special vocabulary,” says Dr Chia. Don’t use negative words such as nervous, hurt, pain, drill or (god forbid!) blood. It can be hard, but resist using bribery or threats to encourage good behaviour.
She also recommends preparing by reading books about going to the dentist and role-playing at home. Make the dentist clinic appointment at a time when your child won’t be tired or hungry. Allow plenty of time – arrive early to settle and play in the waiting area. Once the appointment is underway, let the dentist decide whether you should stay in the room. “Some children respond better without a parent present,” says Dr Chia, noting that children sometimes misbehave, are shy or tearful, or wriggle in the chair. “Don’t worry, every child is different, and we can help manage the situation.”
Who doesn’t love an occasional sweet treat? However, for your children’s oral and overall health, try not to make candy, chocolate and cake a regular part of their daily diet. The longer food stays in your mouth, the more time the bacteria has to start feasting on food particles and producing cavity-causing acid. Remove distractions (like iPads) during mealtimes so your child stays focused!
When it comes to bedtime, Dr Chia suggests imparting good habits right from the start so your little one doesn’t want to go to bed without squeaky-clean teeth. “When we sleep, several things happen: saliva production decreases, we stop moving our lips and tongue around, and we don’t swallow as much,” she explains. Eating or drinking before bed therefore increases the risk of developing gingivitis, tooth decay and bad breath.
#4 Getting brushing sorted
If you have a child who simply doesn’t enjoy brushing, you could try cleaning your teeth together. Or better still, turn it into a game where you brush each other’s teeth. “We have an egg timer which shows how long children should brush, which makes it fun!” says Dr Chia. The aim is to create a consistent routine that becomes a lifelong habit. It’s all about making taking care of tiny teeth easy and enjoyable for everyone.
This article from a kid’s dentist clinic in Singapore first appeared in the December 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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