How do I brush my child’s teeth?
Proper oral hygiene should begin as soon as teeth start to erupt, generally around six months. Oral health can start with a wet cloth, wiping the gums and front teeth. Once the molars start to erupt (around age 1) a proper, child-sized toothbrush should be used at least twice a day. The bristles are needed to mechanically disrupt plaque so it cannot harden into calculus or tartar. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a fluoride-containing toothpaste before all 20 teeth have erupted. For children 0-2 years, a rice-grain-sized amount is sufficient, after age 2, the amount should resemble the size of a pea. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and remineralizes tooth surfaces.
Is flossing necessary before adult teeth come?
Daily flossing should start once teeth start to contact each other. If teeth are all spaced, the toothbrush should clean in between sufficiently, however, once the contact areas close, only floss can reach in between to disrupt bacteria. Flossing is not just to remove stuck food, it also helps clean between the teeth to prevent cavities and cleans below the gums to prevent gum disease.
My child is very difficult, how am I supposed to brush their teeth?!
The sooner a regular habit of brushing and flossing is established, the more compliant most children are. Brushing can often be a struggle at first as the oral cavity can be a sensitive area, but as with most things, children usually respond well to routines. Some tips for more difficult children
can include: brushing teeth with child’s head in parents’ lap, swaddling busy children in a towel or blanket, having one parent distract with songs, books, shows while the other parent completes the brushing or reward charts for older children.
Can my child brush their own teeth?
Children need to build dexterity and skills over several years before they are capable of doing their own home care. Some basic guidelines to assess your child’s ability to use a toothbrush and floss properly include: being able to tie their own shoes, using a fork and knife to cut their food correctly and being able to write clearly with a pen or pencil. In general, boys take longer to build the proper manual dexterity to brush and floss on their own.
Besides brushing and flossing, how can I help protect their teeth?
Limiting a child’s consumption of processed, high sugar foods is one of the easiest ways to prevent decay. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy fats will aid in overall health as well as excellent oral health. Children should only drink milk and water, sweetened beverages such as juice and pop can rapidly destroy tooth enamel, resulting in cavities and staining.
Making oral hygiene an important habit, just like any other self-care habit such as eating healthy and exercising can shape a child’s future self into a positive, happy and healthy one. Contact us to schedule an appointment or to get more information.