Getting children to brush their teeth properly can be a challenge, but it’s an important part of their daily routine. Like adults, kids should brush their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day, and one of those sessions should be before bedtime.
Facts on Fluoride
The American Dental Association (ADA) offers guidelines for fluoride toothpaste use. This new recommendation is in direct response to an increase in the number of cases of cavities and general tooth decay in very young children. Watch the informative news video below.
Brushing for Infants
Parents of infants should use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste to lightly brush baby teeth as soon as they appear. The ADA suggests that an amount even smaller than the typical “pea-sized” standard is used, often referring to the new size as a “smear.” A smear only lightly covers the upper-most bristles of the brush, and does not deposit in a clump or blob. Once children have aged to 3-6 years old, increase to the standard pea-size amount.
Children are little people, so a small, soft kid-friendly toothbrush is recommended. Encourage your child to count their teeth and brush them in order so they don’t miss any. Toothbrushes should be replaced regularly - a three-month old toothbrush is 30 percent less effective at removing gooey plaque than a new one. Make sure your child is gentle as they brush so they don’t damage their gums. Encourage your child to spit afterwards instead of rinse. Toothpaste continues to work for hours after teeth are brushed, so if it is rinsed away it will not offer the same benefits or protection.
Brushing is Fun
Make brushing fun and encourage calm activities. Sing songs or listen to a favorite song. There are even fun apps designed for brushing. Involve yourself in your child’s brush time until they are at least seven years old.
The First Dental Visit
Regular dental check-ups are vital, and it is never too early for a child to visit the dentist. Ideally, this can be from the moment their first teeth come in. A visit to a pediatric dental office can be fun and pleasant experience for a child and there are things parents and caregivers can do to help the process.
Consider making the first visit treatment-free. Be honest with the dentist. If your child has a problem or issue, let the office know in advance so they can prepare an appropriate environment. Be positive about the visit. Often a parent’s anxiety will translate to a child.
Everyone benefits from healthy teeth and gums. Ask your dentist about ways to help your child succeed in oral health.