Good oral care starts from the beginning of our children’s lives. Even before their first teeth emerge, certain factors can affect their future appearance and health. We were invited to a Colgate Parent Forum last month where we received some useful tips from Dr. Ng Jing Jing, a pediatric dentist from The Oral Care Centre. Let me share the gist here:
Elmo – Ready, Set, Brush is one of the books parents can use to instill good brushing habits
Good Oral Care Habits at Every Age
0-6 months: By 6 months, the baby’s front teeth prepare to emerge. Teeth often appear in pairs. Lower teeth usually arrive sooner than the upper.
7-12 months: Baby’s front teeth (or incisors) start peeking through gums. Beneath the gums, permanent teeth begin to develop.
13-24months: Baby’s molars (the rear teeth used for chewing) now emerge.
Tips for Oral Care:
- After each feeding, at least twice a day, gently wipe baby’s gums with a damp cloth to remove surface bacteria.
- Baby’s ‘Bottle Decay’ is caused by prolonged exposure to sugar liquids (like milk, formula or juices).
- Do not put baby to bed with a bottle filled with anything except plain water. A bottle should not be used as a pacifier.
- As teeth emerge, start wiping them with a damp cloth. When molars appear at the back, begin using a soft toothbrush (once the baby is able to grasp the concept of spitting, usually around age 2, we can start introducing a pea sized amount of toothpaste during brushing).
- Schedule your baby’s 1st visit to the pediatric dentist anytime between 1-3 years old.
The roots of your baby’s teeth begin to dissolve, creating room for his permanent teeth.
Tips for Oral Care:
- Teach your child to care for her teeth by brushing at least twice a day (after breakfast and before bedtime). Make up silly “brush your teeth” songs and sing it every time you brush. Or pick one of your kid’s favorite songs and sing that one. Laugh as your child tries to sing while brushing!
- Choose a toothbrush with soft or extra-soft bristles.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months (or after an illness).
- Give your child a pea-sized amount of floridated toothpaste (but take care that she doesn’t swallow it).
- Floss at least once a day.
- Feed your child a balanced diet that limits sugar or starchy foods as these foods produce acids that cause tooth decay. This is especially crucial as sugar acids are the #1 cause of cavities in children.
- Limit the number of snacks the child eats per day. Encourage your child to brush after snacking. If this is not possible, at least rinse the mouth with water several times.
- Bring your child for regular dental visits every 6 months.
- Use books to make oral care a less frightening experience. E.g. Elmo’s Ready, Set, Brush, Elmo Visits The Dentist, The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist, Dora Goes To The Dentist etc.
The age of 6 usually marks the emergence of the first permanent teeth, usually the lower front teeth.
Tips for Oral Care:
- Even though the baby (or primary) teeth starts to fall out, they are important for eating and speaking, and proper jaw growth. They also create space and guide permanent teeth into position.
- Generally, children lose 20 primary teeth between the ages of 6-12.
- The child’s 1st permanent molars arrive between the ages of 5-7. Back teeth are especially vulnerable to decay so parents should still monitor the brushing.
- As your child’s permanent teeth emerge, watch for crookedness or crowding, bite problems or teeth not arriving at the same time on both sides.
Primary teeth fall out as permanent teeth move into position. Some children may have extra teeth or teeth that do not come in straight. If in doubt, see an orthodontist to correct these issues.
Tips for Oral Care:
- Remind your child to brush and floss daily.
- Buy oral care products that contain fluoride.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months.
- Now that your child is making more decisions for herself, encourage them to eat right. Limit starchy and sugary snacks (including fizzy drinks and sodas). Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of milk and plain water.
- Offer treats as part of a meal rather than a stand-alone snack. At mealtimes, increased saliva flow will help wash away plaque acids and food particles.
- Children pick up oral care habits with their eyes so set a good example.
A Revolutionary Toothpaste: Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer™
At the forum, the key takeaway was that each time we consume food and drink, our teeth is at risk from sugar acid attack. The germs in our teeth turn the sugar and carbohydrates into acids which create an unhealthy pH level that softens the hard enamel surface on our teeth (a process called de-mineralization). Although fluoride helps to prevent cavity formation by reducing de-mineralization, it does not neutralize the sugar acids in plaques. Sweet foods are not the only foods that generate sugar acids (even vegetables and fruits lead to sugar acids). Hence, apart from plain water, there is sugar present in nearly all types of food we consume!
After 8 years of clinical research, scientists at Colgate have finally reached a break-through and launched the Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer – the world’s first and only family anti-cavity toothpaste that goes beyond the protection of fluoride that directly fights sugar acids in plaque — the number one cause of cavities. The fluoride in this toothpaste strengthens teeth and prevents the de-mineralization caused by acids. It is then supplemented with the patented Sugar Acid Neutralizer™ (SAN) which neutralizes sugar acids in plaque and increases the pH of the plaque to a healthy level, promoting the re-mineralization of teeth. Think of it as double cavity protection for our teeth! The best news is that this new toothpaste is totally safe and recommended for daily use adults as well as kids 6 and above. I’m just happy to know the entire family can use the same toothpaste.
I’m sure many readers would agree with me that dentistry expenses in Singapore can be hefty and for many adults (me included), dentist visits are often dreaded. So it gives us greater impetus to take better care of our teeth and inculcate good oral care habits in our children from young. The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a tube of the new Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer and give it a try. Since it is almost impossible to eliminate sugar from our diet, this toothpaste might just be the strongest armour to arm our teeth in the fight against tooth decay!
Disclaimer: We were invited to the Colgate Parent Forum by Colgate-Palmolive. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are, as usual, ours.