Children’s Dental Health – Do You Brush For Them?

It’s been some time since I updated about the kids.  This issue got me quite upset.  Yes, I admit I do baby Didi alot and our favourite bonding activity is to cuddle up and smother each other’s hair and smell each other.  No, I feel that brushing his teeth for him is not treating him like a baby though!

One morning this past week, a family member saw me brushing Didi’s teeth for him and commented on it.  The person then went to tell another about it as well and both started teasing Didi that he’s no more a baby and should brush his own teeth.  To say that I was offended might be a little too harsh as I’m sure they both meant it in good will and wanted Didi to be independent since he is already 6yo.  I believe Didi would not like to be teased too as it is also not every time that he would allow me to brush his teeth for him.  I have to tell him he missed out where and where before he would allow me to.

Both family members have not seen Didi brushing his own teeth twice a day, with diligence and all seriousness.  Yes, the 6yo independence they thought he should have.  They only saw me doing it one time and assumed what they thought.  How unfair to be making sweeping statement!  For this, I’m very sure the many outsiders at his school would be making the same statement on the many occasions they saw me brushing his teeth at his kindergarten.  I shall not elaborate on why but basically it happened because he was carried out of bed at 630am, slept from Jurong West to Serangoon and back to Jurong at 830am.

So I explained to my family that he has been brushing his own teeth, but the dentist (Dr Alan) pointed out to me which teeth to brush FOR HIM as he would never be able to reach those teeth.  You might be thinking like many others, including myself, when Dr Alan highlighted it to me, “How difficult is it brushing the centre and lateral incisors?  It’s right at the front!”  Then, Dr Alan showed me.  And it instantly clicked.  This is how children will end up with stubborn plague and eventually tooth decay.  This is why my friends and I continue go to Dr Alan and loving him as our family dentist.


Every visit to the dentist is like parents’ gathering for us and going to the playground for the little ones! Poor Dr Alan has to “tahan” noise from few kids for maybe 2hrs? >.<

You see, Didi uses his right hand to hold the brush.  His set of teeth from the centre incisors all the way to the left molars are well cleaned.  Back to the centre going towards the right, his lateral incisor and canine (cuspid) are always totally unbrushed.  The right molars are pretty well-managed though.

At his age, his brushing action is a random mix of circular and left-right motion, most of the times doing circular only when he “remembers to”.  Due to the way his teeth is set (which looks pretty straight to me), and of course his dexterity, he will never be able to brush that three teeth until he is very much older and actually know how to reach for it properly.  For now, he may think that he has brushed those teeth properly but in actual fact, there is very little contact between the toothbrush and those teeth.


From this photo, you can see that both lateral incisors on the top row are recessed from the centre incisors. His front teeth protruded out a little from the rest.


Using his right hand to brush the front teeth (centre incisors) and lateral incisor on his left is ok for him. He brushes them well enough because of the angle.


The same hand, same angle. The toothbrush is still held straight because he doesn’t know how to angle it properly. While the front teeth are front-facing, they can be easily brushed. However the right lateral incisor and canine are not. Hence no contact with tooth brush. It is not so bad for the bottom row same teeth because his bottom front teeth are not protruding out like the top.

I hope you can visualise from the above three photos.  It’s hard to show on photos.  😦

To further share, I also learned new knowledge during every dental visit.  Are you aware that toothbrushes available at NTUC and pharmacies are really not so suitable for children?  No, Dr Alan did not tell me that (in case Colgate, Darlie or whatever brand start going after him).  I made that conclusion myself from his teaching.  Previously, we have been buying toothbrushes wrongly – going with age recommendation and BIGGER brush head as they grow through preschool and primary school years.  The problem is, manufacturers have overlooked that most children have small mouths and a bigger brush head not only end up with lesser contact surface, it is also too bulky to reach all the way to the last molar teeth.  The brush head that Dr Alan showed me actually looked ridiculously baby-ish but my experience showed that it is indeed the most suitable.  I had been buying toothbrushes from Dr Alan since but now found cheaper option at Tokyu Hands, West Gate.  Cheapo la, I know.  >.<

In the photo below, is a collection of children’s tooth brushes in my house.  You can see the comparison in size of brush head.  Now, we are only using the tiniest ones and will continue to do so until Dr Alan said something again.


From left, the first two are bought from Tokyu Hands and are what we are using.

The black toothbrush in the middle has a brush head that is bigger and also too stiff.  It may damage their gums.  It is brand new and I have to let the children continue using the old one first until I buy them a new one with softer brush.  Time to hit the mall for stock up!  Needless to say, the other two on the right (pink and panda design) are too big and are no longer in use but are still around the house for perhaps other cleaning purposes 😦

You might be keen to look into your child’s toothbrush when it’s in his/her mouth doing the brushing.  Decide for yourself if it’s adequate against the size of your child’s mouth too.  I do agree that not everybody has tiny mouth too!

[Updated 28 Oct ’15 ->]
Just got these new brushes last night. In case anyone is keen, they can be found at Tokyu Hands, West Gate at $4 each.

The brush head is not too stiff and the size is just about the same as the nail on my index finger.


[<- Updated 28 Oct '15]

It feels good to rant it all out after keeping inside for two days.  Sorry if anyone still think that I'm babying him by brushing his teeth.  I'm his mother and rather than letting his teeth rot and going through the agony of filling (grinding first), extraction or even root canal, I will help him brush his teeth for as long as I feel the need to.  I always tell my children that they will still be my baby even when they are 35.  Just like how I am still my mama's baby.  ❤


Audrey and I would gladly share Dr Alan’s clinic and contact here but will not.  We had spoken to Dr Alan and he expressed preference to see regulars only with recommendation.  His target market is not kids’ dentistry and is only seeing children because of interests.

Thank you for joining us on SAys! Happy Mums.  If you liked what you’ve read on our blog, please follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our mailing list (side bar on the blog) for the latest updates.  We hope to see you back again soon.

~ SAys! Shirley 🙂


About SAys! Happy Mums

We are a Singapore Mum Blog hosted by BFFs Shirley & Audrey. We blog about our children, parenting and family lifestyle. Most often than not, we find ourselves immersed in family and kids entertainment and can't escape from the lure of great food!

8 thoughts on “Children’s Dental Health – Do You Brush For Them?

  1. Hi,

    Enjoyed reading the article, as I am still brushing my girls’ teeth as well 😉 because it is simply hard to tell tell them to reach to the back to brush.

    Can I know the small tooth brush that you have been buying , thks!



    • Hi Shirly, there is no brand. Its from Japan. You can get it from Tokyo Hands at West Gate. Each is about $3-5?. Too many children varieties there! ♡ And each type has a sample for you to feel the brush stiffness.


  2. Hi Shirley,

    Thanks for a good write up. Just found out it’s time for my older boy, age 4, for his dental check up. Need to check his filler for his front tooth. Am wondering if Dr. Alan has any suggestion for the front tooth? My boy enjoys his dentist trips, so no problem. 🙂 Would you be able to share Dr. Alan’s contact details? Thank you.


  3. Hi Shirley, good write up. My both sons have cavities even after brushing teeth twicce. Can i habe Dr Alan number too.

    I still brush my son who is 4.5 yrs old and toddler.


  4. I have a 2 year old and doing some research on this topic and a friend recommended your blog. Great information. Thank you.

    May I ask for Dr Alan’s contact? Thinking to bring my son for his first checkup.



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