FAQ’s for your growing childrenDr Alice Yang
Do you wonder why your children visit the dentist every year but still have cavities and other problems with their teeth? Our oral health depends on daily hygiene and maintenance much more than visits to the dentist. We’d like to provide some tips on how to take care of your children’s dental health at home.
Here are five of the most common questions we get at our dental clinic:
- My kids always finish brushing their teeth so quickly! How can I encourage them to brush longer?
Most children between ages 3-10 are very energetic with short attention spans. To encourage them to brush for more than 2 minutes, try an electric toothbrush which will stop only after 2 minutes. In addition, we can play a song of 2 min long while brushing to keep them entertained. A great App called “Brush DJ” can play any song for 2 minutes with reminders at every 15 seconds while you brush every quadrant. It will even give you a round of applause after brushing! Kids will love it!
- Their new adult teeth are much more yellow than their baby teeth? Should I tell them to drink more milk?
The permanent teeth have a greater quantity of dentin which is more yellow naturally compared to baby teeth. Once all permanent teeth erupt in the mouth, the colour will appear more uniformly. Milk products contain high levels of calcium and phosphorus which can help with formation and maturation of bone and teeth as well as have protective effects against tooth decays. However if the sugar component in milk, lactose, is left in the mouth for long hours, it can ferment and cause tooth decay. So it is advised not to let children drink their milk bottles to sleep. Children still need to brush their teeth after consumption of milk.
- My children are very scared about going to the dentist. How can I ease their nerves?
If they are very nervous and anxious about seeing the dentist, why not show them an episode of Peppa Pig having a pleasant experience at the dentist with her little brother (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz1n_qZ4UOg). In addition, an App called “Baby Doctor Game-Little Dentist Feed and Care” have games for users to play dentist and fix various teeth problems. Children are shown the consequences of not looking after teeth properly and may feel less nervous visiting the dentist since they know about what might be involved.
- My child has lost a tooth too early. Are the adult teeth still going to grow normally?
Apart from the eating, speech and appearance baby teeth provide, they save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt, causing permanent teeth to come in crooked. Your dentist may recommend a “space maintainer” for the child to hold the empty space left by a lost tooth and prevent movement until permanent teeth take their natural positions in the jaw. It is more affordable and easier on the child to keep teeth in normal position than to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.
An orthodontic assessment should take place before the age of 8, so any problems can be spotted early. However that doesn’t mean a kid will need braces straight away. Your dentist or orthodontist will recognise which problems exist and choose the best timing to start treatment if needed.