​Singapore’s dental statistics

In Singapore, a study last year found that six in 10 Singaporeans did not have dental check-ups every six months as advised by dentists, and 43 per cent visited a dentist only when they had problems like a toothache. Also, 56 per cent of them spent less than two minutes a day brushing their teeth and 18 per cent did not brush their teeth twice a day.

Singaporeans have a good level of dental health awareness, and oral hygiene here is fairly satisfactory, due to the emphasis on oral care in schools in the past 20 years, said Dr Chee Hoe Kit, Consultant, Periodontic Unit, National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), a member of the SingHealth group.

"But about 40 to 50 per cent of the population still have fairly poor oral hygiene. They are either unaware that this can lead to gum disease, or are possibly deterred by the cost of dental treatment. They may not know that they can visit a polyclinic, which has dental services, for a simple cleaning. These barriers may lead to poor dental health," he said.

10 tips for clean teeth

Here is some advice from Dr Chee to take proper care of your teeth:

  1. Use a soft toothbrush, as hard bristles may be too abrasive on the gum line and teeth surfaces.
  2. Don’t brush too hard, as this can damage teeth by being too abrasive on the enamel or dentine surfaces. 
  3. Brush at a 45-degree angle to ensure you reach the areas between the teeth and gum line, where plaque builds.
  4. Jiggle the brush by using small circular or a left-top-right motion to clean and remove plaque build-up at the gum line. Up and down brushing, or vigorous left to right movements across the teeth, will not adequately get to where the plaque is located.
  5. Where to brush? Use the jiggling motion to brush teeth surfaces at the gum line. For the inner front teeth, use the up-down motion. Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth as well.
  6. Brush for two to three minutes to ensure all your teeth are adequately cleaned. The average person spends about one to 1½ minutes, which is too little.
  7. Brush at least twice a day. Three times a day (after each meal) is excellent.
  8. Do not snack after brushing as this causes plaque to accumulate again. Saliva flow is reduced when you sleep, so if you go to bed with bits of food still in your mouth, there will be less saliva to clean your teeth naturally.
  9. Floss using an upward scooping motion against the teeth and not a sawing motion, which may cut your gums.
  10. Visit a dentist at least once a year. Only a dentist can properly diagnose your dental health. Ask for a proper gum examination, during which the dentist will measure the gum pockets around each tooth to see if there are any disease sites that will need proper gum treatment.

Ref. T12