Never too early to take care of teeth

Kindergarten students in PCF Paya Lebar Education Centre get a lesson on the correct way to brush their teeth by a dental therapist from the Health Promotion Board.
PHOTO: Never too early to take care of teeth

Bad teeth is an increasing problem among young children here, with at least one in two having dental caries at the age of seven, a recent report on the oral health of schoolchildren here showed.

The worry is that bad milk teeth can lead to problems with the development of permanent teeth.

Dentists say parents should take their child along when they go for their own dental checkups, even when the child is too young to have teeth. This helps the child become familiar with the surroundings at a dental clinic and the dentist can also look in the child's mouth in a fun and informal way, count how many teeth have erupted and spot any early signs of decay.

Children may need dental visits more often than adults. This is because milk teeth are smaller and have thinner enamel than permanent teeth, so decay can spread quickly.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), taking care of a child's teeth is important because baby teeth or milk teeth help a child chew food and speak clearly. Milk teeth also hold space so permanent teeth can grow in straight.

wanching@sph.com.sg

Click on the gallery below for eight tips on how to care for a child's milk teeth from the AAFP and the Health Promotion Board.

This article was first published on May 14, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.