Paediatric Dentist – Private or Public? | School Dental Centre
Milk teeth will drop, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of them and get them check. They will affect the growth of permanent teeth. My friend’s kid had a bad decay in his milk tooth and had to do crowning. Don’t ask me why crown for milk teeth, but the treatment is confirmed by a second opinion. Other than the pain the kid had to go through, the treatment is not cheap.
Hence, early diagnosis and prevention are important. Moreover, bringing children to the dentist when they are young helps them to enjoy dental visits and develop good dental habits for life.
The recommended age to bring your child to the dentist is 6 months to 1 year, after the first tooth has grown out and no later than 1-2 years old. So book your appointment today!
I would suggest going for a dentist that specialises in Paediatric Dentistry. Paediatric Dentists undergo 3 years post graduate specialty training to manage the dental needs of children in relation to prevention, treatment, behavioural management and development (source).
Public Dental Options
For the first two dental visits of EX’s life, she went to Thomson Dental. However, the charges are quite high, especially when the first visit is just mainly about educating the parents on how to take care of the child’s oral health, and to check if the the teeth have any abnormality. You can read more about these in our first visit to the dentist.
If you don’t want to spend a bomb on your children’s teeth, you can consider going through the public and subsidised route. This was what I decided to do when EX is older now. We went to the School Dentre Centre. Later, I discovered other options such as the National Dental Centre Singapore and National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore.
School Dental Centre
The School Dentre Centre (“SDC”) provides oral healthcare services from pre-schoolers to Singapore schooled students below 19 years. SDC also serves as a referral centre for more complex treatment.
In SDC, patients are strictly seen by appointment only. You can only book appointment 4 months in advance.
National Dental Centre Singapore
NDCS provides multidisciplinary specialist care for complex dental conditions, such as orthodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, and paediatric dentistry.
Be careful not to mix up SDC with the Paediatric Dentistry at National Dental Centre Singapore (“NDCS”). SDC does basic checks and cleaning while NDCS can do more complicated procedures like root canal. SDC and NDCS are next door neighbours, so be sure to go to the correct one!
A friend paid S$127 as a private patient: S$85 for consultation, S$16 for the topical fluoride for the child’s chipped tooth, and S$18 for consumables.
If get a referral from the polyclinic, you can get a subsidised rate of about 50%. Once you are at NDCS, request to join the pediatric dental program.
National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore (“NUCOHS”) is relatively new, officially opened in July 2019. According to its press release,
NUCOHS synergises clinical services, education and research facilities under one roof. It is also equipped with patient-centred facilities to manage the needs of patients from young children to the elderly, including patients with special needs and those with multiple coexisting medical conditions.
Based on google reviews, patients seem to prefer NUCOHS (4.4 stars) to NDCS (2.9 stars). You can also get a referral from the polyclinic to enjoy subsidised rates at NUCOHS.
Experience at School Dental Centre
Seated among the rows of seat near the receptionists, our queue number flashed, along with the dentist number. We pushed the glass door to enter, and was greeted by rows of dentist cubicles. I was quite taken aback by the mass market factory impression. Or rather, it was like a big office with many cubicles, except within each cubicle is a dentist and a dentist chair, instead of a desk and a computer. As we walked to the cubicle number, EX couldn’t help but touch the colourful decals on the wall.
The cubicle was not as welcoming as when we went to Thomson Dental. Simple and clinical. I don’t even recall having toys around, or rather the dentist didn’t even bother to “entertain” and ease the little one with toys. Just a small sticker at the end for her bravery.
Perhaps we were the last patient of the day, the dentist looked kind of jaded from her work and going through the motion. “Next, please,” was her look. She didn’t even try to make EX feel welcomed or comfortable. While I was in there, I was thinking, “good thing this is not EX’s first visit to the dentist”.
We didn’t need to wait long as the last appointment of the day. Then again, I would advise you to be the first patient of the day, because it meant a more energetic dentist and a definite short wait.
Consultation and Cleaning
When EX was younger, she didn’t even need me to sit with her when the dentist checked. Here at SDC, she wanted to sit on me. I thought it was simply because she’s older now, and more conscious of pain and fear.
EX brushed her teeth twice daily, but she still has very visible yellow stains. The dentist couldn’t tell me why, until I suggested it could be because she likes to pocket food and drinks in her mouth.
The dentist said to come back again when she’s older for cleaning. But EX had cleaned her teeth before when she was younger, so I said just go ahead. I don’t know if it’s the dentist’s skill or just EX’s age, we only managed to get a few teeth cleaned as opposed to the whole set at Thomson Dental.
I knew it would be affordable at SDC, but it was still much cheaper than I expected. I was surprised when I got the bill: the consultation was free, while the cleaning was only S$9. I overheard someone asking the cashier when her number would be called, only to be told there’s no payment required, so she could have actually left.
My conclusion: It’s definitely 一分钱一分货, you get what you pay for.
“Do you like it here?” I asked EX. It would be so affordable if we can go back to SDC again. “No,” she replied, “I like the crocodile dentist.” That’s the friendly Thomson Dental dentist, Dr Tabitha who sang to her to ease her fears while checking her teeth. The room was also filled with toys, and there’s the crocodile toy.
Too bad, Dr Tabitha is going on a long maternity leave in 2021. Perhaps I should try NUCOHS next and hope it’s a better experience. Shall update again!