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Infant Oral Health Clinic

​Parents should bring their child for his/her first dental visit by age 1. The Infant Oral Health (IOH) Clinic provides services targeted at mothers and their infants. It is run by paediatric dentists who will:

  • Assess the risk of infants developing severe early childhood caries
  • Develop customized preventive programs and closely follow up infants at risk
  • Monitor the oral development of infants in relation to teething and oral habits
  • Teach parents appropriate feeding and oral hygiene practices

How will the dentist examine my infant’s teeth?

Children below age 3 are considered pre-cooperative. As they are too young to understand and cooperate for a dental examination, some crying and/or struggling is anticipated.

Often, a knee-to-knee approach is required. 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 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 three, 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.


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. Toothwipes can be used, but are not necessary. While most toothwipes contain xylitol, the xylitol concentration in the toothwipes has not been consistently proven to be effective in preventing tooth decay.

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 recommended. For children who cannot spit, use only a smear of toothpaste and wipe it off with a cloth after brushing. For older children who can spit well, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used. Do consult a paediatric dentist if you need a demonstration or more information on oral hygiene in infants/babies.

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. Such practices increase your child’s risk of developing severe early childhood caries. If your child needs a comforter between regular feedings at night or during the day, give him/her a bottle of plain water instead. You should aim to wean your child off the milk bottle by age one.