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Infant Oral Health Programme

​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:

  • Assess the risk of infants developing early childhood caries
  • Conduct an oral examination for your infant
  • Help you manage your infant's risk of dental caries by customising a preventive plan with close follow-up
  • Monitor the oral development of infants in relation to teething and oral habits
  • Manage age-specific problems (e.g. natal and neonatal teeth)
  • Individualised advice on fluoride use, oral habits, trauma prevention, the growth and development of teeth and jaws
  • Teach parents appropriate feeding and oral hygiene practices for their infants

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:

  1. Has no active tooth decay
  2. Is 1 year old, or had his/her first tooth erupt within the last 6 months


How will the dentist examine my infant’s teeth?Examination of a 1-year-old child using the knee-to-knee position

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 iohp@ndcs.com.sg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Examination of a 1-year-old child using the knee-to-knee position

icon-for-iohp-on-website-national-dental-centre-singapore.png                                                                                                                                                                                               

COMMON DENTAL ISSUES RELATED TO INFANTS

Teething

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 Habits
In 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.

Child sucking on pacifier Thumb-sucking

(Left) Child sucking on pacifier                                                             (Right) Thumb-sucking


CARING FOR YOUR INFANT'S TEETH

Oral Hygiene

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

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.

Smear of Fluoride Toothpaste for Children Below 3 Years Old by the National Dental Centre Singapore   Pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children above 3 years old

(Left) Smear of toothpaste for children below 3 years old                (Right) Pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children above 3 years old

 
Feeding Practices
Avoid 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