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​It's an exciting time for both you and your little one. By the time your child has turned one and a half years old, he would have become comfortable with solids as part of his daily diet.

This means that he has been sprouting strong healthy milk teeth to help with the chewing and gnawing; mum and dad have also been able to introduce exciting new foods from the various food groups to him.

Related: Getting Ready for Solids

Report Card: Habits You've Built

By this time, you have probably:

  1. Brought the little one to the dentist for his first visit.
  2. Started brushing his teeth with a soft toothbrush twice a day.
  3. Weaned him off on-demand night feeds of formula milk in a bottle.
  4. Weaned him off the milk bottle and switched him to milk in the cup.

Keep up the good work, mummy and daddy! Now, what's next?

Related: Help Your Child Smile for Life

Review That Brushing Technique


You've been brushing your child's teeth so much you probably feel like a pro, but here's a quick reminder how best to brush:

  1. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that's gentle on the gums and a small head that fits comfortably into your child's small mouth.
  2. Brush all surfaces of the teeth—chewing, inner, and outer—as well as the tongue.
  3. Brush twice a day, once in the morning after your baby wakes, and another time before he goes to bed.
  4. Brush for at least two minutes. Make these two minutes fun by singing a song!

Related: One in Two S'pore Kids Has Rotten Teeth: Report

Is It Time for Toothpaste?

Fluoride in toothpaste protects your child’s teeth from tooth decay by strengthening it. However, children can get fluorosis on permanent teeth from swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste. Fluorosis results in a change in colour or texture of the teeth.

To prevent fluorosis, ensure that an appropriate amount of toothpaste according to your child’s age is dispensed and that your child does not swallow the toothpaste.

Use a fluoridated toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm fluoride twice a day to prevent tooth decay. For children below 3 years old with high risk of decay, a smear amount (size of a rice-grain) of fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Visit a dentist who can advise you on your child’s risk of developing tooth decay and on the appropriate use of toothpaste. For children 3 years old and above, use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.

Related: Look After Kids' Teeth Now or Feel the Pain Later

After Brushing Comes Flossing and Rinsing, Right?

 

 As a general guide, your child's teeth needs to be flossed once they come into contact with each other. Flossing has to be done by an adult as a child wouldn't be able to do so on his own. Try using a floss pick if you are uncomfortable with using string floss.

 

Mouthwash should not be used by children under the age of six, especially if it contains alcohol.

Don't Forget About the Diet

A proper diet not only helps your child grow up strong and healthy, it can also prevent tooth decay. Mums and dads should avoid giving their little one anything that is high in sugar for as long as possible—these include candies, lollipop and even biscuits with cream or chocolate fillings. That's the best way to get your child's teeth to a strong healthy start!

Fruit: Choose fresh over dried

This list is not restricted to just sweets and chocolates! Treats like raisins and other dried fruits are also high in sugar and can cause tooth decay—especially since they stick to the grooves of teeth.

Instead, offer fresh cut fruit or veggies instead: apple and pear slices, carrot or celery sticks are all good options. Other tooth-friendly snacks include cheese and nuts.

Related: Guilt-free Treats for Kids

Milk and water's your best bet

Avoid giving your child juice and other sugary drinks (e.g. soft drinks, flavoured milk, malt chocolate drinks). "Cooling" drinks like homemade barley drinks sweetened with rock sugar or boiled apple water are also high in sugar and can lead to dental caries when sipped throughout the day.

Avoid adding sugar to these drinks, or only give them to the little one with meals. And make sure not to put sugary drinks in a water bottle, so as to prevent your child from drinking them throughout the day.

How your child drinks also makes a difference: be extra mindful of sugary drinks that come in a squeeze pouch. Your child may constantly suck on them, causing the sugary liquid to pool in his mouth and increase the risk of tooth decay.

 

Milk and water remain the best fluids for your little one, but do not let your child go to bed with a bottle of formula milk as that's going to cause the sugary liquid to pool around his teeth and lead to tooth decay. In fact, it would be best to let your child learn to drink from a cup instead. And remember to brush his teeth after the last milk feeding!

Related: The Essentials of Bottle-Feeding

Remember: Milk Teeth Are Important Too!

It's a common misconception that since milk teeth fall out, it's not that important to take proper care of them. That's a myth: tooth decay in a milk tooth can, in fact, affect the developing permanent tooth. And a baby tooth falling out before its time may also cause misalignment of adult teeth.

So make sure to instil proper dental care as part of your child's daily routine as early as possible because your child needs strong, healthy teeth in order to chew, speak and of course, flash that cute smile at mummy and daddy.



Read these next:

References:

  1. Joel Berg. When Should My Child Start Flossing?. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.babycenter.com/404_when-should-my-child-start-flossing_1492887.bc
  2. When Should My Child Start Flossing Her Teeth?. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/advice/big-kids/hygiene/when-should-my-child-start-flossing-her-teeth/
  3. How Do I Care for My Infant's Teeth?. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/infant-oral-care/how-do-i-care-for-my-infants-teeth
  4. Should Parents Let Their Kids Use Mouthwash?. (2014, August 15). Retrieved November 2018 from https://mustlovekids.com/parents-let-kids-use-mouthwash/
  5. How Do I Care for My Toddler's Teeth?. Retrieved November 2018 https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/childrens-oral-care/how-do-i-care-for-my-toddlers-teeth
  6. Caring for Your Child's Teeth. (2015, July). Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a539851/caring-for-your-childs-teeth
  7. Should Children Use Mouthwash and at What Age?. (2017, October 13). [Blog]. Retrieved November 2018 from https://smilezpediatricdentalgroup.com/should-children-use-mouthwash-and-at-what-age/
  8. Wendy C. Fries. (2010, October 28). Dental Health Care: Tots, Tweens, and Teens. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/children/features/dental-health-care-tots-tweens-teens
  9. Renee A. Alli, MD. (2018, September 8). Brushing and Flossing Children's Teeth. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/brushing-flossing-child-teeth#1
  10. Gina Shaw. (2010, March 1). What Should You Know About Your Child’s Oral Health?. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/what-should-you-know-about-your-childs-oral-health#2