According to a recent study, published in the journal of the European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, sugar-free lollipops containing licorice root extract significantly reduced the bacteria that causes tooth decay, specifically in pre-school children with high-risk of tooth decay. (The lollipops are manufactured by Dr. John’s Candies of Grand Rapids, USA).

The study analyzed 66 preschool students in Lansing, Michigan, ages 2 to 5 who received a lollipop for 10 minutes twice daily for three weeks. The result showed a significant reduction in Streptococcus mutans, bacteria which is responsible for tooth decay, during the 3 weeks period before the bacteria starts to rebound 22 days after the stopping of the lollipops.

According to the National Dental Centre, about 40 percent of pre-school children in Singapore show severe tooth decay caused by bacteria infection. Studies also have shown that poor oral health in children can lead to impaired school performance and poor social relationships.  Therefore, it is important to inculcating good habits in keeping good oral health since young age. Just like how certain types of chewing gum is good for adults’ teeth, choosing the right treats for your children would be helpful to keep their baby teeth as long as possible.

Other preventive measures that parents should take note of include:

  • Ensuring that toddlers do not sleep with the milk bottle. If a child falls asleep while sucking on a bottle, the sucking becomes passive, causing the milk to pool around the teeth and form plaque, which will, in the long run, cause tooth decay.
  • Making sure to rinse, wipe or ideally brush their children’s teeth before bedtime.
  • Some habits such as thumb sucking or using a pacifier should not be allowed to persist past a certain age, as it may affect the bite, teeth alignment, lips and the growth of the child’s jaw and bones. Parents should help the child in finding ways to gradually stop the habit.
  • The first visit to the dentist should be made when the child is between 12 – 24 months of age. It is advisable the trip to the dentist is made when there is no pain to avoid children associating a visit to the dentist with discomfort.
  • Seeing an experienced children’s dentist (paedodontist) in a child friendly environment may result in helping to form a positive experience about visiting the dentist and thus, aid in good dental health. The first dental check-up identifies any dental issues with respect to the growth and dental development of the child. The dentist is also able to advise on nutrition and home dental care.

For more information about children’s dentistry, visit the Specialist Dental Group website.

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