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A reader wrote in regarding her nephew losing his two front primary teeth five months before he turned 6 years old, and asked if it was too early for him to be losing his teeth. The reader also mentioned that while the child used to eat sweet snacks when younger, he has since stopped, and also brushes his teeth twice a day. She also asked about steps to take to ensure good oral health for him.
Dr Bien Lai from NDCS's Paediatric Dentistry Unit advised that children start to lose their primary teeth around 6 years old – some may start as early as 5 years old, or as late as 9 or 10 years old. Depending on growth and development, permanent teeth can grow out in a few weeks, or take as long as 1 or 2 years. Early loss of primary teeth can be due to normal development, tooth decay, infection, trauma or systemic disease. She also advised that parents should take their child to the dentist to seek help if they are concerned about their child losing teeth early. Dr Lai also highlighted that children should see the dentist by age 1, so that any abnormalities can be picked up early. She also mentioned that about 40% of preschoolers have tooth decay, and recommended not giving sweet treats more than 2 to 3 times weekly, and to brush with 1000ppm fluoridated tooth paste after the last meal or milk feed. Adults should carry out brushing for children under 7 years old, to ensure that teeth are well cleaned.
SOURCE: LIANHE ZAOBAO, SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS LIMITED, REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION