Dental caries is the most common chronic disease in children. 1 in 2 preschool children has
early childhood caries (ECC).
While ECC is prevalent, it is a preventable disease. Early dental visits allow preventive advice to be given to caregivers before any tooth decay occurs. If tooth decay is present at a young age, early interventions can be made to prevent it from spreading and causing further damage.
The objective of the Infant Oral Health Programme (IOHP) is to help the child develop good oral health and oral health behaviours at an early age. It is recommended for a child to have his/her first oral assessment at 1 year old or 6 months after the first tooth erupts.
In the Infant Oral Heath Programme,our paediatric dentists will:
In addition to a focus on the prevention of tooth decay, we hope to be a part of your child's developmental journey by building rapport and teaching him/her to manage their anxiety in a dental setting. This can have life-long effects on their outlook towards oral health care.
Your baby is suited for the IOHP if he/she:
How will the dentist examine my infant’s teeth?
Children below age 3 are considered too young to understand and cooperate for a dental examination. Some crying and/or struggling is anticipated.
A knee-to-knee approach is often used to examine young children. This involves the dentist and parent sitting facing each other with their knees in contact, and the child’s head is placed on the dentist’s lap. From this view, the dentist will be able to examine all the teeth. The parent should help to hold the child’s hands to prevent any unexpected movements. The knee-to-knee position can also be used by parents when brushing an infant’s teeth. The examination typically takes less than 2 minutes.
For enquiries on IOHP, please contact us at
Examination of a 1-year-old child using the knee-to-knee position
COMMON DENTAL ISSUES RELATED TO INFANTS
The first primary tooth usually erupts at the age of 6 months. However this can vary, and it is not unusual to find some children who do not have a single primary tooth until the age of 10 months and onwards. By age 3, all primary teeth are present in the mouth.
Teething babies may show signs of mild irritability, drooling, and tendency to chew more. Babies with diarrhoea, vomiting, high fever, ulcers and decreased appetite should consult a medical doctor as it is a myth that these symptoms result from teething.
So what can parents do to help alleviate the mild discomfort in the gums when the baby is teething? Try a chilled teething ring or massage the gums with your finger wrapped in a cold towel. These can help the teeth to cut through and alleviate the need to bite on things. Avoid using teething gels as inappropriate use may result in accidental overconsumption.
Oral HabitsIn the first year, infants usually explore things by putting them into the mouth. This includes sucking on digits or pacifiers. However, prolonged use of pacifiers or thumb-sucking can result in misaligned anterior teeth (i.e. an open bite). Parents are encouraged to wean children off these habits early, before age 3, as there is a higher chance of spontaneous correction.
(Left) Child sucking on pacifier (Right) Thumb-sucking
CARING FOR YOUR INFANT'S TEETH
Toothbrushing in babies may be daunting, but establishing an oral hygiene routine early in life will help your child gets used to having his/her mouth cleaned.
For babies without teeth, a toothbrush isn’t necessary. Simply wrap a clean damp washcloth around your index finger, and gently wipe the gum pads, cheek mucosa and tongue to remove any residual milk curds.
Gum cleaning in an infant
An age appropriate bristled toothbrush should be used for toothbrushing once the first tooth erupts.
Fluoridated toothpaste containing a minimum of
1000 parts per million (ppm) fluoride is effective in preventing tooth decay, but there may be concerns with fluorosis. For children below 3 years old with high risk of tooth decay, a smear of fluoride toothpaste is recommended. For children above 3 years old, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used. Consult your dentist if you have concerns regarding toothpaste use and fluoride ingestion.
Feeding PracticesAvoid filling your child’s bottle with sweetened liquids and never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices or sweetened liquids. You should aim to wean your child off the milk bottle by age 1.
Bottle feeding to sleep is not recommended
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