50% of Preschool-aged Children Suffer From Early Childhood Caries: NTU Students Launches Oral Health Campaign
According to National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), one in two preschool-aged children in Singapore suffers from Early Childhood Caries (ECC), which is defined as tooth decay in children below the age of six. While prevalent, it is a disease that can be prevented with good oral care practices. Early dental visits allow preventive advice to be given to parents before tooth decay occurs. In addition to preventing oral diseases, these visits can reduce unnecessary costs spent on future surgical and emergency dental services and reduce the likelihood of future resistance to dental visits.
After gathering survey data from parents with young children, four final-year students from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) found that only 1 out of the 109 respondents brought their child to the dentist by the recommended age of one. The team’s campaign, titled Smile Toothgether, aims to reduce the incidence of ECC in Singapore by raising awareness among parents of the need to bring their children for their first dental visit by the recommended age of one or when the first tooth erupts, whichever comes first. Supported by oral health professionals, the campaign offers parents advice and information on their child’s oral health, and tackles common misconceptions parents have regarding early childhood oral health.
Smile Toothgether is partnering with the Singapore Dental Association (SDA), the Association of Oral Health Therapists (AOHT), as well as dentists from both public hospitals and private clinics. Its Facebook and Instagram pages will host bite-sized informational posts on early childhood oral health. There will also be an upcoming four-episode Mythbuster series on early childhood oral health misconceptions, as well as an open Q&A portal connecting parents to partnering dentists and oral health therapists. Parents who have concerns about their child’s oral health can send their questions through Direct Message or comment on any of Smile Toothgether’s posts. The questions will be then addressed by partnering with oral health professionals.
➡️ Related Read: Why Your Kids Oral Health is More Important Than You Think
To bring attention to the cause, several Members of Parliament (MPs) with young children below the age of six – Mr Louis Ng, Ms Tin Pei Ling, Ms He Ting Ru and Mr Yip Hon Weng – have joined the campaign to give shoutouts through their social media accounts.
To encourage parents to bring their children for their first dental visits, the campaign has launched the #WeSmileToothgether hashtag challenge. Participants in the social media challenge stand a chance to win children’s product hampers. To participate, one has to post a photo of their child’s dental visit or any photographic evidence of a confirmed dental appointment on Facebook or Instagram under the hashtag #WeSmileToothgether.
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