According to The Straits Times, there are worrying figures of tooth decay among pre-schoolers. Moreover, it's not just one cavity here and there; according to the same news article, figures from NDCS (National Dental Centre Singapore) show that half of the children requiring general anaesthesia for their treatment have at least 10 decayed teeth. The level of decay present in these children's teeth is also concerning - it is often so severe that dentists have to use general anaesthesia to perform the surgical procedure. General anaesthesia has its own set of risks, including vomiting, nausea, and, in very rare cases, brain damage or death. Furthermore, some of these same children who undergo surgical procedures end up with more cavities later on. Luckily, there are a few things parents can do to stop this problem in its tracks.
Start Brushing Early
Start brushing your child's teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth erupts. Use a wet gauze square or your finger to gently brush along the baby's gums. Not only will this keep their newly minted teeth clean, it will also get them used to the idea of brushing their teeth so they'll be less likely to resist it later on.
Take Your Child to the Dentist
The Ministry of Health and National Dental Centre Singapore recommend that a child should visit the dentist between 6 to 12 months of age. During this visit, the dentist will be able to look at your child's mouth, gums, and bite, as well as check your child's teeth for signs of decay. These early visits will also help your child get used to the idea of the dentist.
Limit Sweet Snacks and Juice
Though almost every food contains some sugar, there are some that have especially high amounts - sweets, candy, fruit snacks, and gummies, for example - which you should limit in your child's diet. You should also be careful about your child's juice intake for similar reasons. Many parents pacify their kids by letting them have a sippy cup full of juice - try choosing water instead. In addition, you shouldn't let your child fall asleep with a bottle; milk pooling in the mouth is one of the most common causes of cavities in toddlers.
Make Sure Your Child Gets Enough Fluoride
With an increased number of parents relying on bottled water, many kids aren't getting enough fluoride from tap water. Talk to your doctor or dentist to see if your child needs a fluoride supplement.