Most parents often worry about their children's weight, height, academics, and other developmental milestones in general... and tend to forget about one important thing that they need to pay close attention to \u2013 their children's oral health! Did you know that children with poor oral health are more likely to under perform and often miss more school? Healthy mouth and teeth, or commonly known as oral health, are fundamental components of the overall health of children. Therefore, it is important to ensure children cultivate healthy oral care habits since young to set the stage for good oral health care throughout their life and avoid health issues that can result from poor oral health. Q&A WITH THE DENTIST: DR. MELVIN SIA Let's hear from Dr. Melvin Sia, a practising dentist who has over 10 years of experience and is the Founder and Director of M Dental Clinic located at Damansara Utama and Co-founder of Smile Up Dental Group. Dr. Melvin Sia Dr. Melvin shares with us an expert view on the best practices in maintaining good oral health for children of all ages. 7 POPULAR QUESTIONS ABOUT CHILDREN'S ORAL HEALTH Q1: How old should I start teaching my children to brush their teeth? Picture credits: Freepik Dr. Melvin: Tooth brushing can begin as soon as baby's first tooth cuts through the gums, which is around 6 months of age. Use a clean, damp cloth or a finger brush to gently wipe clean the first teeth and the front part of the tongue. At 18 months, parents can start using a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste to brush their child\u2019s teeth. Try to teach them to spit the toothpaste out and not to swallow it. Clean all the surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day \u2013 after breakfast and before bedtime. Q2: When or how often should I bring my child to see a dentist? Dr. Melvin: You can start bringing your children to visit a dentist within 6 months after their first tooth has erupted. It is important to start visiting a dentist early so that your child's oral health is well taken care of at a young age. First visits are mostly about making your child feel comfortable sitting in the dentist's chair and educating parents about how to take care of their baby\u2019s teeth. If your child has transitioned from the bottle to cup and does not snack or drink in the middle of the night, a dentist visit is normally done once a year until the age of 2. This is when the\u00a0regular 6 monthly\u00a0dental visit recommendation starts. Q3: What kind of toothbrush is most suitable for children? Photo credits: Shutterstock Dr. Melvin: The recommended toothbrush for your children is a small head toothbrush with long handle that is easy for little hands to hold. Select a toothbrush with soft bristles made of round-ended surfaces, which can clean the child\u2019s teeth well without being rough on their gums. By the age of 8, your child can brush their teeth independently and you can begin purchasing toothbrushes that are similar to adult toothbrushes but have slightly smaller heads and larger handles. Babies and toddlers still require parental assistance during brushing time. Whereas older kids can brush on their own, with supervision. In both cases, toothbrush handles should be easy to grip and manipulate but still have smaller heads. Q4: What is the difference between adult and children\u2019s toothpastes? Can we use both interchangeably; e.g. we use children\u2019s toothpaste or can children use our adult toothpaste? Dr. Melvin: The main difference between adult and children\u2019s toothpastes is the concentration of fluoride in the toothpastes. Children's toothpastes typically have less fluoride. Can children use our adult toothpaste? Yes, in moderation or a controlled amount. However, children below 3 years of age should only use a smear of toothpaste, while children aged 3 years and above should brush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Q5: Why does our children\u2019s toothpaste taste sweet?\u00a0 Picture credits: Freepik Dr. Melvin: Some children's toothpastes contain sugar substitutes, such as sodium saccharin or isomalt. They are mainly non-cariogenic sweeteners that do not promote tooth decay and bring flavour to the toothpaste. However, Isomalt in toothpaste has the added function of strengthening dental enamel. Q6: Is fluoride harmful to our children? Dr. Melvin: Fluoride is a mineral in our bones and teeth, and also found naturally in the water, soil, plants, rocks, and air. Fluoride is commonly used in dentistry to improve our oral health. Fluoride protects our mouth in a couple of ways. Firstly, it helps to remineralise weakened tooth enamel and slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel as the addition of minerals help to keep your enamel strong. Secondly, fluoride helps to control the acids that are caused by bacteria on our teeth and erode the surface of our teeth. Fluoride in appropriate dosages is generally safe for consumption. However, when consumed by children in larger amounts, it can bring more harm than good. Children who consume too much fluoride are at risk of developing dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis appears as a range of visual changes in the enamel such as white spots and discolouration on the surface of the teeth and in some cases, physical damage to the teeth. Dental fluorosis is caused by consuming too much fluoride while teeth are still forming under the gums. Children 8 years and below are at risk because their permanent teeth are still forming. Therefore, it is even more important to supervise young children while brushing to ensure they spit, not swallow their toothpaste. Q7: Should my children use mouthwash as part of their daily oral care? What if my children accidently swallow the mouthwash? Dr. Melvin: Yes. However, for safety reasons, it is recommended only for children aged 6 years old and above to start using mouthwash with adult's supervision. Children of this age group typically have fully developed the needed motor functions and control over their mouth to properly rinse and spit. Thus, they have a lesser risk in accidentally swallowing the mouthwash. In most cases, it is not harmful to swallow a small amount of mouthwash. To successfully maintain good oral health with mouthwash, you can let your children practise swishing and spitting beforehand, so they will not swallow the mouthwash when rinsing. Also, remember to keep your mouthwash our of your child's reach to avoid unwanted incidents, where your child may play with or accidentally swallow large amounts of it. THE MOUTH IS THE GATEWAY TO A HEALTHY LIFE Start good habits young and it is never too early to start caring for your child's oral health! Make sure your child begins with good oral care routines when they are young to have a healthier life, a better childhood, and fewer trips to the dentist in future. To ensure your child's oral health is protected optimally, get your children equipped with the right set of oral care products, such as SUNSTAR GUM, the no. 1 oral care brand in Japan. Sunstar GUM Kids has got you covered with a wide range of oral care products to complete the daily oral hygiene needs of your children. GUM KIDS TOOTHBRUSH Co-developed with a dental clinic in Japan to suit the fundamental needs of a toothbrush for children, GUM Kids Toothbrushes have soft bristles, yet are effective in removing plaque in children with growing permanent teeth. GUM Kids Toothbrushes are specially designed to fit children's mouths and are available in two different sizes: small head size and shorter handle for 3\u20136 years old and slightly larger head size and longer handle for 7\u201312 years old. GUM KIDS TOOTHPASTE With a combination of unique ingredients called isomalt and fluoride, GUM Kids Toothpaste helps remineralisation of teeth 4x faster, which also means 4x protection* for stronger teeth in children! Also, specially designed to meet the needs of children of different age groups, GUM Kids Toothpaste contains different fluoride concentration for greater protection. Toothpaste for 2\u20136 years old has 498 ppm fluoride concentration, while 7\u201312 years old has 950 ppm fluoride concentration. Even better, it is also available in a variety of flavours: Grape and Strawberry for 2\u20136 years and Soft Mint for 7\u201312 years! *This comparison is against normal fluoride toothpaste. GUM MOUTHWASH FOR CHILDREN Got a child 6 years and older? Then, it is time to introduce him or her to GUM Mouthwash for Children as\u00a0part of their daily oral care\u00a0regime! Contains Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC) to effectively kill bacteria causing plaque and cavities, alcohol-free, and has a fruity-mint flavour, GUM Anti-Bacterial Mouthwash for Children offers long-lasting protection with regular use. GUM Mouthwash for Children is recommended for: \tChildren aged 6 years or older \tChildren who are susceptible to cavities or who want to prevent early caries \tChildren who love to eat or drink sweet stuff So mummies, encourage your children to rinse with GUM Mouthwash for Children after they indulge in sweet desserts to fight against cavities! Do not forget to cart out GUM KIDS toothbrushes, toothpastes, and mouthwashes on your next trip to retail stores, such as Guardian and AEON WELLNESS. If you prefer to shop GUM KIDS products online, you can do so by purchasing them here!