October 13, 2017, Mum & Kids
The Ministry of Health recommends taking children for their first dental visit by the first birthday. At this first visit, the parents can get educated on the proper methods of cleaning their child’s teeth.
Babies even less than one year, can develop tooth decay. This may not be noticed as the initial stages of tooth decay can be as subtle as a chalky white streak along the neck of the tooth. Even if it is noticed, many parents tend to ignore it as they think that baby teeth are “going to fall off anyway”. Or they may think that their child is simply too young to get treatment. This kind of thinking stops them from taking their child at an early age to the dentist so that initial problems can be identified and preventive measures taken.
During the first visit, parents can be advised on diet, habits like thumb-sucking and importantly, the correct way to clean their child’s teeth. Oral hygiene is one of the most important ways of preventing tooth decay.
Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria on teeth produce acid from food sugars left in the mouth. The acid attacks the tooth surface causing cavities or holes in the teeth.
There are many factors contributing to tooth decay e.g. the strength of the structure of the tooth, the amount and nature of bacteria in the mouth, the frequency and kinds of foods eaten, the ability of saliva to neutralise acids and so on.
One common cause of tooth decay in very young children is allowing the child to fall asleep with a milk bottle. This habit can result in rapid spread of tooth decay because the milk residue left in the mouth while the baby sleeps is a ready source of sugars for the bacteria in the mouth. As explained above, the bacteria acting on the sugars produce acids which attack the tooth. Hence is it is necessary to change the habit of putting baby to sleep with milk.
Remember, the best time to take the child to the dentist is before there is a problem.
Dr. Asha K. Karan, has been practising dentistry for more than 30 years. She graduated from the National University of Singapore, and has been continually updating her skills and knowledge in
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