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          Children should floss before they turn three

          Trick or treating may lead to some toothy problems – here’s the solution.

          Halloween comes with a stack-full of candy and fun times. But the trick is not to go too hard on the treats for fear of dental trouble once the night has passed. Ahead of the candy-licious event, on October 31, we asked an expert about the most common tooth issues children face during this season and how they can deal with them.

          What’s the most common teeth issues kids face during this season?

          In general, dental caries (cavities or tooth decay) is the most prevalent disease in children. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 530 million children suffer from caries of baby teeth around the world. In the US, untreated cavities in children under the age of three is the most common chronic early childhood disease and is five times more common than asthma.

          "Start brushing as soon as the first tooth comes out."

          What are some of the things we may be doing in child rearing that’s having a detrimental effect on kids’ teeth – for instance, letting a toddler fall asleep with a milk bottle in his mouth?

          The most common cause of cavities in toddlers, also called Early Childhood Caries, is putting a child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice. The sugar content in these beverages will pool around the teeth and mix with cavity-causing bacteria that will damage and rot your baby’s teeth.

          Another big factor is a diet high in sugar or high in carbohydrates. Frequent consumption of food and drinks that are rich in sugar and starches puts your child at a high risk for cavities.

          How many times should a kid brush?

          A child should brush with a smear amount of toothpaste in the morning and at night. Brushing is very important. However, a lot of parents and caregivers are not aware that flossing is just as critical in keeping children’s teeth healthy. We should start flossing as soon as two teeth establish contact, usually between one to three years of age.

          Could you give us some tips on what parents can do to better their child’s mouth hygiene practices?

          Again, flossing is very important. Parents should be in charge of brushing and flossing their children’s teeth until they’re old enough to do it by themselves. Generally, children could brush on their own by age seven and flossing by age 10.

          Is there a particular type of toothbrush or toothpaste that’s best for kids?

          When it comes to children’s oral hygiene, the most important thing is for parents to establish the habit early on. Any toothpaste or toothbrush is as good as the child liking it. If they enjoy brushing, they will stick to the habit. Start brushing as soon as the first tooth comes. Make it fun and be consistent so that it becomes second nature to your child.

          Besides a toothache, when do you know you need to take your child for a dental check-up?

          Like adults, children should see a dentist regularly. Take your child to a paediatric dentist for a check-up every six months or at least once a year. This way, we can prevent and capture issues while they are still small, and hopefully, without the need for too much intervention.