Paediatric Dentist for Young Children in Singapore
Is it necessary for young children to visit the paediatric dentist just for routine check-ups? It doesn’t seem to be so in Singapore. Many parents would say, “It’s just the first set of teeth.”, “Not many teeth anyway.” or “The dentist can’t do much too, except ask a few questions. Waste of time and money.”
Once, I even met an unprofessional receptionist at my dentist (mainly for adults) who scoffed at children for being too young to visit the dentist, she said, “1 year old, so young. No teeth, what to clean?” This ill-informed comment might mislead other parents and runs contrary to Healthhub’s recommendation of bringing children to the dentist from 6 to 12 months old.
As mentioned before, I highly recommend young children to visit a paediatric dentist. My girls visited the dentist since they were about 1 year old. Even though the first visit might feel like a waste of money or expensive advice, I would still do it again at that age. You can consider School Dental Centre, more on it later.
Why visit a paediatric dentist?
A dental visit is more of a preventive measure. The dentist would dish out dental care advice for young children and thus reduces the chances of tooth decay. For example, the dentist pointed to the areas where I should brush a little harder or how I should “pull” open her lips or mouth to clean those blind spot areas. Moreover, the dentist might detect decay early and nip it in the bud.
Moreover, letting the child visit a dentist early on in life helps him/her to be familiar with the dentist’s clinic. If the child only visits the dentist when in pain, there’s a tendency to associate pain with a dentist.
My daughters’ dental journey
“Which dentist did you bring your girls to?” a friend asked me. That question inspired this post. I have brought the girls to a few dentists, both private and public (subsidised). Do take our dental journey as a reference while you decide on the dentist best suited for your child and budget.
When Grace*, my eldest, was 20 months old, I brought her to Dr Tabitha, a paediatric dentist. Our experience was pleasant and that made me write a review of it. At that time, she was practising at Thomson Dental (children’s dentistry). She has since left and Dr Toh Siew Luan is now the current paediatric dentist at Thomson Dental.
Dr Tabitha set up her own practice at My First Dentist. I wanted to bring Joy*, my younger daughter to visit her, but her first visit consultation fee starts from S$150 now. Additional fees for treatment such as scaling and polishing start from S$90. So a visit with cleaning can amount to at least S$240! I think it’s not worth it for a toddler’s first visit unless he or she has some serious teeth issues. Note that you need to book an appointment with her way in advance.
We contacted Dr Tabitha because we were urgently looking for a paediatric dentist. For last-minute consultation, we stand a better chance of getting an appointment with private dentists. We were flying to Paris the next day and Joy had discomfort in her mouth. On closer look, she had a gum flap covering a tooth. Turns out it’s common for molars that are erupting through the gum, especially the lower ones. The flap will usually “disappear” by itself, just that meanwhile there will be discomfort. According to healthofchildren.com, the flap of gum traps bacteria and food, leading to mild irritation.
In the end, we went to Petite Smiles. Many mummies recommend Dr Ng Jing Jing from the clinic but she’s now located at the Dunearn branch (Bukit Timah). So we went with Dr Justine Lim (Novena branch) and had a pleasant experience. It costs us S$107 for the consultation and treatment. Not much cleaning, Joy was under two years old at the time of the visit.
Subsidised Government Dentists
So why didn’t Joy visit her current dentist when we needed help? Grace and Joy had appointments at National University Centre For Oral Health Singapore (“NUCOHS”). I called and a lady told me there is no slot for walk-in consultations, she can squeeze me in for the nurse or dentist to have a quick look at the condition. They would give painkillers if the pain is unbearable, but no procedures would be performed. Perhaps gum flaps are not warranted as a dental emergency, because later I found out that NUCOHS accept walk-ins in the case of dental emergencies.
We went to NUCOHS in the first place as an alternative to the School Dental Centre. Moreover, we enjoyed subsidised rates after getting the polyclinic’s referral. The rates are in between that of the School Dental Centre and private dentists. Or you can head there as a private patient too. Here is NUCOHS’s fee schedule.
Apparently, we can’t really go there for regular checkups, so the girls were discharged after a few visits and were recommended to go to the polyclinic dental instead. That’s too bad because our experience with NUCOHS was quite pleasant. The fees are more palatable than private, and the dentist feels more experienced and friendlier than the one at School Dental Centre.
School Dental Centre
The best part of our experience at the School Dental Centre (“SDC”) was the fees. If no cleaning or treatment was done, you don’t need to pay anything for the consultation. We only paid S$9 for Grace’s cleaning. Hence, I recommend SDC for the first dental visit of infants and toddlers. That’s because cleaning is usually not done on the child’s first visit, assuming you’re not visiting because of tooth issues. It’s a visit to get the dentist’s advice and for the child to be familiarised with the dentist and the environment.
We booked the last appointment of the day and so didn’t need to wait too long before our turn. Otherwise, be prepared to wait for quite a while during peak. However, the dentist assigned to us was probably too tired by then. She wasn’t friendly or warm to Grace, more like she was speaking to an adult. Moreover, the dentist’s cubicle (not room) felt clinical, and not so decorated for children.
You can read more about our SDC experience and the different public dental options (including National Dental Centre) in my previous post.
Which dentist next?
Since NUCOHS discharged us and we are not able to get the subsidised rates (we can still go as private patients), then we will give School Dental Centre another try. Hopefully, the next dentist assigned to us will be better and friendlier. A positive experience would encourage the children to visit the dentist and not resist it!
If it’s still not so good, the girls will go to Petite Smiles. After enquiring many paediatric dentists, the usual private dental rate for kids is similar to that of adults. If they are older, you may consider a non-paediatric dentist, such as the dentist you visit. They might be cheaper. You can check with the dentist for their patients’ minimum age.
Refer to all my articles about dental care at: baby.joogostyle.com/tag/dentist. There’s another article I recommend reading before your child’s first dental visit: doctorxdentist.com/childs-first-dental-visit-singapore.
Let me know other dentists you are considering. I love to check them out. Also, do share your experience with paediatric dentists in the comments section below. 🙂
*Not their first names.
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