Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Primary (baby) teeth should be brushed from the moment they first erupt into the mouth using a soft toothbrush and a smear or lentil-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste and should not swallow any toothpaste. Careful supervision is encouraged. Parents should always opt for ADA approved toothpaste (non-fluoridated before the age of two, and fluoridated thereafter). For babies, parents should rub the gum area with a clean cloth after each feeding. As children become toddlers they will have the inclination to try and brush their teeth by themselves. Use a non-fluoridated toothpaste or only water for children who insist on brushing on their own, but end up sucking on the brush and not spitting. However, in this 2-5 year old age group you should still perform or assist with your child’s toothbrushing still using only a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste. The general rule we always use for determining when a child is able to brush their teeth effectively is that if they can tie their own shoes then they can brush their own teeth. Children that can tie their own shoes should have the manual dexterity necessary to effectively clean their own teeth. Once your children begin brushing their own teeth parents still need to monitor to make sure that children are brushing correctly. Everyone should brush their teeth 2-3 times daily. It is very important to brush before bedtime and after your child brushes before going to bed they should not have anything else to eat or drink besides water.
Toothbrushing ‐ Brush your teeth at least twice a day(especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.
- Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
- Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
- Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
A set of baby teeth (20 in total) have usually worked their way into your child’s mouth by 2½. As the molars drift towards each other, they eventually contact and it’s at that point where plaque gets trapped between them. Even brushing won’t budge pesky plaque, but parent-assisted flossing on a daily basis will keep contact points spotless and popcorn kernels out. Ask your dentist for tips on how to best floss little teeth in little mouths.This should be done each time your child brushes or at minimum floss after brushing at night.
Set a good example for your child! Brush your own teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Be positive about dental visits and visit your dentist regularly. Also, be aware that the habits of your child’s primary care-taker can significantly impact his/her risk for tooth decay as oral bacteria are transferred from care-taker to child at eruption of the first tooth. A healthy mouth will have less problem bacteria to transfer.
Though most parents primarily think of brushing and flossing when they hear the words “oral care,” good preventative care includes many more factors, such as:
Diet ‐ Parents should provide children with a nourishing, well-balanced diet. Very sugary diets should be modified and continuous snacking should be discouraged. Space out snacks where possible, and provide the child with non-sugary alternatives like celery sticks, carrot sticks, and low-fat yogurt.
Oral habits ‐ Though pacifier use and thumb sucking generally cease over time, both can cause the teeth to misalign. If the child must use a pacifier, choose an “orthodontically” correct model. This will minimize the risk of developmental problems like narrow roof arches and crowding. The pediatric dentist can suggest a strategy (or provide a dental appliance) for thumb sucking cessation.
Sippy cup use ‐ Sippy cups are an excellent transitional aid for the baby bottle-to-adult drinking glass period. However, sippy cups filled with milk, breast milk, soda, juice, and sweetened water cause small amounts of sugary fluid to continually swill around young teeth ‐ meaning continuous acid attacks on tooth enamel-cause cavities. Sippy cup use should be terminated between the ages of twelve and fourteen months – or whenever the child has the motor capabilities to hold a drinking glass.
Fluoride ‐ Fluoride helps prevent mineral loss and simultaneously promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel. Too much fluoride can result in fluorosis, a condition where white specks appear on the permanent teeth, and too little can result in tooth decay. It is important to get the fluoride balance correct.
If you have questions or concerns about how to care for your child’s teeth, please contact our office.