TNAP asked parents to post dental related questions on our Facebook page. Here are the replies from our dental expert, Dr Chin Shou King, Dental Surgeon and Director from T32 Junior (Kid’s Dentistry).

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Q: What is the recommended age to start visiting dentist?

Before the first birthday.

Q: Is it necessary for toddler to go for dental check-up although there’s no problem with their teeth?

child first dental visit

Yes, it is recommended so that dentists can spot potential problems and educate parents on how to prevent them.

Q: My baby is 15 months. I notice his teeth are kind of yellowish. I use cloth & wipes to clean his teeth. Is it possible to remove the stain?

The yellow discolouration is probably due to a build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth. It can be wiped off, but if left for too long it will harden and form calculus (tartar) which needs to be removed by a dentist.

Q: My 17 month old had her teeth grown straight but now I’m noticing a slight gap between her front teeth, is this due to the use of a pacifier?

Yes, very likely.

Q: My 20 month old son has the habit of sucking his lower lip since 4 months ago. As a result, he has an overbite and I am concerned that it will get worse if he doesn’t stop the habit. Is there any ways to correct it?

If it is a habit, you must remind your son to avoid doing it. You may bring him for an orthodontic consultation, but they may only be able to treat the problem when he is older.

Q: Do teeth come out in a specific order? My 15mth old already has 4 lower incisors and 4 upper incisors. Instead of the canine tooth, a premolar came out last week. Is this normal?

what is baby tooth decay

Yes, this is normal if it is an upper premolar. The upper canines are shed after the first upper premolar has erupted.

Q: My son’s two front teeth are starting to protrude. He is only two years old. How soon will he need teeth braces?

buck teeth in children

The protrusion could be caused by thumb sucking or some kinds of pacifiers. It is recommended to try and stop the habit. If the protrusion is genetic (i.e. one or both parents’ teeth protrude) then it would be best to bring your son for an orthodontic consultation at 7 years old.

Q: Is it normal for my daughter who is turning 3 to have bad breath? No matter how much I try to brush her teeth or clean her tongue, her breath still smells bad. Any solutions or reasons for this?

Bad breath may be caused gum disease, cavities or tooth decay. It would be good for her to see a dentist for a check-up. If the problem is not caused by any dental issues, she may have sinusitis, post-nasal drip, low salivary production (caused by certain medications), asthma or some gastric reflux problems and you may need to bring her to see a paediatrician. More serious causes of persistent bad breath include diabetes, kidney failure and liver disease

Related Read: Children’s Oral Hygiene

Q: My girl has a split tooth (one root with two teeth forming a v shape). Will there be any effect on her teeth development and is this common?

Fused primary teeth can cause crowding, a typical spacing between the teeth, and can cause problems with or delay the eruption of the permanent teeth underneath.

Because of this, when a double tooth is found, you should have your dentist monitor the permanent teeth underneath it to ensure that they come in normal. Sometimes, your dentist will have to remove the double tooth in order to allow the permanent tooth to erupt normally.

One thing to watch out for is the propensity for fused and geminated teeth to have deep grooves between the “two” teeth. This groove can be very susceptible to developing cavities as it is hard to get a toothbrush all the way down in the crevice to clean it properly. You may want your dentist to put a sealant in this groove to help prevent a cavity.

Fused teeth are seen in 0.5 – 2.5% of Caucasians and 5% of Asians.

Q: My daughter’s permanent tooth is found behind the baby tooth. Is it true that the baby tooth can be extracted only if the milk tooth is shaky?

We recommend only removing the primary tooth if the succeeding adult tooth is erupting and the primary tooth shows no sign of mobility (i.e. It is not shaky). If the primary tooth is shaky due to the erupting permanent tooth, it is alright to leave it alone to shed by itself naturally.

Q: My boy has a small gap on her bottom teeth. Any suggestions on how to close the gap?

gaps in teeth

If the gap is between his primary teeth, it is best to leave it alone. If the gap is between his permanent teeth, it is recommended he goes for an orthodontic consultation.

Q: My girl is 7 years old and none of her baby teeth have dropped. Is this a cause for concern? When should her primary teeth start to fall off?

The normal age range is usually 6 – 7 years old. Perhaps your daughter is towards the later end of the range. For reassurance, you may wish to consult a dentist and have an x-ray taken to ensure the succeeding adult teeth are present and nothing is causing a further delay of the eruption.

Q: My 8 year old boy has a brown stain on one of his teeth. He visited the school dental but can’t attempt to clean for him. When prompt to ask, they said they can’t clean it. Why is this so?

The stain could be caused by initial caries which is a cavity forming. It cannot be cleaned off as the discolouration has entered the enamel of the tooth already.

By Dr Chin Shou King, Dental Surgeon & Director, T32 Junior (Kid’s Dentistry).

Practice address
One Orchard Boulevard, 17th Floor
Camden Medical Centre
Singapore 248649
Tel: (65) 6733 1388
Emergency Dental Services: (65) 6398 5578

This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.

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