5 Common dental concerns for kids in Singapore!

Here are 5 common dental concerns for kids in Singapore, that can sometimes get worrisome for parents!

Worldwide, between 60 and 90% of school children have dental caries (dental decay or cavities). Most of the disease remains untreated. Dental decay causes pain, results in missed days in school and usually requires costly treatment, which is often not affordable or available. 

The world average of 6-19 year olds with dental decay is 70% with the highest being found in Argentina (100%) and the lowest in Japan (16%). (1)

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines oral health as “a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing”.

There is a direct link between the quantity and frequency of sugar consumption and increased risk for tooth decay, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Bacteria in the mouth break down sugars into lactic acid which leads to demineralisation of teeth (the minerals are removed and over time this causes dental caries. 

As a parent it can be challenging to keep an eye on your child’s teeth and to know what is normal and what is not. I often get asked a range of questions as a dentist about children’s teeth. 

When will my child’s teeth come through?

We get 2 sets of teeth and the baby teeth, also known as primary or deciduous teeth start to erupt at around 6 months. The lower two front teeth are the first ones you may see in the mouth.

Below is a table of eruption dates for primary teeth. 

Upper Teeth

Tooth

Erupt

Shed

Central incisor

8-12 months

6-7 years

Lateral incisor

9-13 months

7-8 years

Canine

16-22 months

10-12 years

First molar

13-19 months

9-11 years

Second molar

25-33 months

10-12 years

Lower Teeth

Tooth

Erupt

Shed

Central incisor

6-10 months

6-7 years

Lateral incisor

10-16 months

7-8 years

Canine

17-23 months

9-12 years

First molar

14-18 months

9-11 years

Second molar

23-31 months

10-12 years

What is normal in teething?

All children are different and you may notice a ‘teething’ phase from 3 months onwards where your child likes to bite down on items a lot of the time. This along with drooling, irritability, moodiness and not wanting to feed are all part of the teething process. Teeth pushing through into the mouth can be a painful process and your child may need some extra love and affection at this time.  If you are concerned consult your doctor or dentist. 

What is dental caries and how do I spot it?

Dental caries is also known as dental decay or dental cavities. This disease is due to dietary sugars combining with bacteria and sitting on the tooth surface. From here it produces an acid and demineralises the teeth, leading to dental caries.

You may notice this as brown or black areas on the teeth. They may give no symptoms but can cause sensitivity and pain. If there is no pain, it does not mean the cavity does not need treating.

A dental cavity can get bigger and reach the nerve in the tooth. This results in severe pain, swelling and the tooth needing extra attention or taking out. A large infection can lead to damage to the adult teeth.  If you notice a brown or black area on your child’s tooth, brush the area and if it does not go away consult a dentist.

Does diet affect dentition?

Yes. Evidence points in the direction of dietary sugars contributing to dental disease.Carbonated and acidic foods can also cause acid erosion of the teeth.This is where the strong outer enamel layer is dissolved by acids.  

Nutrition in dentistry is often overlooked. It is important to feed your child foods that will nourish him or her.Real whole foods are best as they offer a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Avoid processed and refined foods as they are often laden with additives and have a reduced nutritional density.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts it is advisable to gently brush twice daily. Current best practice suggests brushing twice a day for two minutes on every surface of each tooth.

Children who can not tie their own shoe laces tend not to have the manual dexterity to brush there own teeth. It's advisable that an adult helps them. We always recommend limiting refined sugars and not eating after the bed time brush.

Your child's teeth are important. While they may get a second set, if the first set are not cared for, your child may suffer with infections and pain. In some instances the teeth may need removing from the mouth.  

This is very traumatic for both parent and child. Disease in the primary teeth can hinder the growth and development of the adult teeth with regard to shape, colour and position in the mouth. Teaching children to care for their teeth and bodies from a young age instils great habits for adulthood.

Until next time, keep smiling.

Also READ: Best dentists in Singapore for kids!

References: 

(1)FDI World Dental Federation, Oral Health Worldwide https://www.omd.pt/noticias/2014/03/fdioralhealthworldwide.pdf

(2) World Health Organization. Oral Health. Fact sheet no 318. April 2012. Available at: www.who.int/mediacentre/ factsheets/fs318/en/index.htm.

(3) American Dental Association, Tooth Eruption, The primary teeth, JADA November 2005 Vol. 136, P.1619 http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient_56.ashx