Dental Care Tips For Your Preschooler (3-5 years old)
By age 3, your child should have a full set of 20 baby teeth.
Start a regular daily tooth cleaning routine early in life. Brushing should be done at least twice daily-morning and before going to bed. Your child may insist on self-brushing but the adults need to go over a second time to ensure that all teeth are thoroughly cleaned. More often than not, young children chew on the toothbrush and suck on the toothpaste more than they brush when they do it by themselves.
Choose a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. A toothbrush with a short and bulky handle may be easier for your child to hold, but the toothbrush with a longer handle is easier for the parent to use when brushing for the child.
Flossing cleans between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. For children with baby teeth touching each other (especially the molars), flossing by parents is recommended. This can be difficult for some parents and will require practice. Ask your paediatric dentist to show you how.
Most children are able to spit by age 3. Use a smear of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste (or size of a rice grain) to help prevent tooth decay but make sure they spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
Sweets and sugar containing food
Bacteria in our mouth will act on sugar to produce acid. The acid breaks down tooth enamel to form cavities. Sugar is found not just in sweets or candies but also hidden in many of our foods and drinks such as juices, jams, cakes and cookies.
Excessive snacking of sugar containing foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay. The more frequent the sugar intake, the longer duration it is in the mouth and the stickier the type of sugar, the more harmful it is for the teeth.
Nowadays, children receive goody bags from their schools and parties they attend. Make sure to go through them and give only the ‘healthier’ snacks to your child.
Visit the dentist regularly
Bring your child to the dentist every 6 months for a check. The dentist may be able to intervene early to prevent any dental problems from worsening. For example, a fluoride varnish can be applied to make the teeth more resistant to decay. It is often applied onto tooth with early decay to prevent it from developing into a cavity.
Regular visits to the dentist enable a trusting relationship to be developed among the child, parents and dentist. This is vital in helping the child cope with dental treatment when it is required.
About the Author
Dr Toh Siew Luan is an experienced Paediatric Dentist with many years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of tooth decay and dental trauma for children, especially those who are fearful and anxious or those who need extensive or complex treatment. She is patient and loves being around children.
Read more about her
Dr. Toh Siew Luan
Thomson Medical Centre