Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weaning Wednesdays: Brush, baby, brush!

We've been very consistent about brushing Junior J's teeth.  Here's why:

1. The mouth is an entryway for nasty germs:  The hubby used to come back with stories about children getting brain abscesses that developed from tooth decay, and apparently there are loads of other diseases linked to oral health in adults, such as heart disease (click here to read more, if you dare...).

2. Milk teeth are important, not just for chewing:  I used to think the milk teeth were just there so that the kiddoes could eat their chocolate cake, but I learnt some time back that the milk teeth are needed in speech formation as well as to guide the eruption of permanent teeth.

3. We want him to develop the habit of tooth-brushing early, before he gets old enough to try to resist our efforts... :p  Since we've started brushing his teeth (or gums when he was really little), he's been used to us poking around in his mouth, and doesn't kick up a big fuss when it happens.  He does insist on holding his toothbrush though!

We found that these routines worked for us:
1. 0-6 months (no teeth): My aunt, who used to be a midwife, taught us how to bathe and clean the boy when we first brought him home from the hospital.  One of the steps she introduced during the bath routine was to wipe his gums using a piece of cotton wool, dipped in water and wrapped around a little finger (no long nails for that finger, or you'll scratch the baby!).  She explained that it might help make the teething process less uncomfortable in the future, and I think it did really help get the boy used to the idea of "brushing".

2. 6-9 months (a few teeth): We started using a baby toothbrush, and the boy actually liked holding it and biting on it.  We just moved his hand to ensure he didn't miss a spot, and in addition, would sometimes clean his mouth using a clean, damp washcloth wrapped around a finger if he had a particularly messy or sweet meal.  There are actually many brands of baby toothbrushes in the market, but we got the Pigeon one.  That one comes in a set of 3 brushes for different stages, and the set comes with a guard you can fit on to prevent the baby from sticking the toothbrush too far into his mouth.  It's made from polypropylene which is safe, and its rather inexpensive compared to other brands (and you can even buy it from NTUC!).

3. 9++ months (8 teeth or more): We shifted to using the stage 2 toothbrush from the set, and now the boy insists on holding his toothbrush, and can take it out and return the toothbrush to its holder.  We find that if we brush our teeth alongside with him, he becomes more willing to brush his teeth (and let us guide his hand as he tries to brush).

4. Above 1 year: We're thinking of switching to the stage 3 toothbrush which has the real bristles, and I'm also thinking of using baby toothpaste.  I've read that toothpaste isn't so necessary as its the friction from brushing that is doing the work of cleaning the teeth, but I sometimes don't like the smell of his mouth, especially after he's been eating fish porridge!  However, if you do introduce toothpaste, here are some guidelines:

:: Use only a pea-sized amount each time
:: Use a non-fluoridated version (seems like there's only one brand available here that fits the bill!) until 4 years of age
:: Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing

All these steps is to prevent enamel fluorosis, where the excess fluoride causes discoloration of the teeth.  Singapore's tap water is already fluoridated, so toothpaste for younger children should not contain any flouride.  

Oh, and if you're wondering when junior's next tooth is coming in, head over to this site to check out their teeth eruption charts... and if you want more scientific information on fluorosis, read this journal article.   And go get that toothbrush and clean those tiny pearlie whites!

PS: The hubby used the computer this morning, and thinking he was doing me a favour, clicked "save" on an older draft (I had left the computer on sleep mode since Junior J woke up after I published the post)!  So I had to retype the whole thing (since its a topic close to my heart in many ways), but thankfully I could copy the post from the iPhone with all the links intact!  Note to self: Always log out of blogger and shut down the computer!


  1. nice! just before the eruption of his permanent molars, we could drill his primary molar and place a glass ionomer cement at the back portion. the cement releases flouride and it'll strengthen the enamel of the permanent teeth and reduce the risk of it being decayed.quite a common prophylatic procedure for kids these days.

  2. Hey Jon! I didn't know Mr Dentist visits this blog! :) Sounds scary... don't the kids freak out when you drill their teeth? I always thought just using fluoride toothpaste was enough! If we ever do it, we will send the boy to you ok?

  3. haha. yup, i do. how could i miss that shot of the young advocate for tooth brushing!!!

    well, depends on the rapport between dentist and child. i had a very good dentist last time, allowed her to do anything to me, drill, extract etc. it was painful, but i allowed her to do her stuff.

    don't tell them it's a drill. it's just a magic wand that zaps all the monsters in their teeth so they can have stronger teeth after that!

  4. True, true! Ok, next time we'll send the boy to uncle Jon and let him work his magic!

  5. hi, at what age should i bring my son to a dentist? He's coming to 2years soon. Any recommendation or your 'uncle jon'? Can email me at Thanks! Shimin

  6. Hi Shimin, I've dropped you an email. Hope you've received it! :) Happy Mother's Day!



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