Brushing children’s teeth is important for many reasons. Primary or baby teeth help straighten their jaw, hold the space for permanent teeth, and play a significant role in how they learn to talk, chew, and smile. Having healthy children’s teeth also helps with confidence in school and other social activities. Following dental care tips to establish good oral health habits early in life will encourage lifelong patterns.
When Do You Start Brushing Baby Teeth?
Even before children get their first tooth, parents should clean their gums using a massager, a clean washcloth, or gauze.
You may start brushing twice daily using water as soon as your child’s teeth come in. Flossing is recommended when there are teeth that are already in contact with one another, normally around two to three years old. Food particles commonly get caught between them and promote the growth of bacteria and plaque formation.
Children develop cavities in the same way as adults do. Starchy snacks like crackers and even milk, a sweetened liquid, may increase your child’s risk of cavities. They are also susceptible to the same conditions that damage adult teeth.
Aside from regular brushing and flossing, it is important to bring your child to a dentist for regular check-ups.
How Do You Brush Baby Teeth?
Dental care tips may differ depending on the age of the child.
4 to 24 Months
As mentioned earlier, good oral care for children starts even before teeth appear. Experts recommend parents to wipe their gums with a soft-bristled brush or washcloth using water only every after feeding. Others use a dentist-recommended cleaner.
Once the first tooth erupts, brush your child’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. This time, you may switch to a child-sized brush with a cushioned head and non-fluoridated kids’ toothpaste.
Most experts would recommend seeing a dentist as soon as your child turns a year old. Succeeding checkups will then be scheduled every six months to monitor tooth development.
2 to 4 Years Old
Children two years old and above are now allowed to use fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent cavities. Encourage them to brush their own teeth, but with your supervision of course, until good oral hygiene is established. If your child resists teeth cleaning, think of other ways to make it more fun and creative.
Buy a themed brush with his or her favorite cartoon character and a flavored kids’ toothpaste. Brush your teeth with your kid too! This makes it more like an activity or a play while allowing them to learn through imitation.
You also have to be aware of the impact that nutrition, drinks, and food have on oral health. At this stage, your kid is already eating solid food. You must promote healthy eating habits by avoiding sugary drinks and unhealthy snack options. Do not forget about calcium and fluoride, which are important for the growth and development of children’s teeth.
5 to 7 Years Old
Young children are more than willing to brush their own teeth. However, most do not have the manual dexterity for thorough teeth cleaning until they are about seven years old. Until then, they’ll need help with brushing and flossing. Allow your child to do it on his own first, and then help later on.
Teach them the proper technique. Start with these easy steps:
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle against the gums
- Move the brush back and forth gently to avoid gum irritation. Make sure to cover the fronts, backs, and tops of the teeth.
- Do not forget the top front teeth and behind the bottom front teeth. These areas are prone to cavities and need extra attention. A brush with a longer tip is ideal for these hard to reach these areas.
Children also thrive on regular schedules, so do this at the same time daily. Permanent molars will start to appear at age five, so make sure to clean teeth using a fluorinated toothpaste every morning and night before bedtime.
8 Years Old and Above
Parents have less influence over meals and snacks for school-aged children. You need to set good examples for your kids by eating a variety of healthy foods at home and by following regular oral health care routine. You may think that children don’t notice, but they do!
Also, encourage whole grains and fruits as their snacks. Keep sugar drinks to a minimum as it can promote tooth decay. Increase water intake as well! At this age, your child already has a mixture of baby and permanent teeth. They are of different sizes, too! You may need to replace his or her brush again to suit this complexity.
Many of the same treatment and evaluation options that adults have are also available to kids. These include x-rays, dental sealants, orthodontic treatment, and more.
Most of the dental care tips and treatment options that adults have are available to children, too! If you are looking for the best dentist for kids, look no further. Sunrise Dentistry has a holistic dentist in Durango, CO who’s also an expert in children’s teeth.