Introducing good dental routines from a very early age will set your children up for life.
When to Start Brushing?
As soon as your baby cuts their first tooth, you should be cleaning their teeth with a baby toothbrush and a tiny pea sized amount of age appropriate tooth paste. By starting early, your baby gets used to the daily routine and tooth brushing at least twice a day will become second nature.
When to see a Dentist?
My youngest patients are less than a year old and some of my toddler patients enjoy coming to the practice as much as they would the soft play centre- none of the fears that blighted some of our childhood visits to the dentist!
I would encourage anyone with a small baby to take them along to their dentist from an early age to get them used to attending
What can you do at Home?
And there is so much you can be doing at home to protect your children’s teeth. Here are just a few tips:
- Choose a small, child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush. Soaking the brush in warm water for a few minutes before brushing can soften the bristles even more.
- Many dentists recommend using only plain water for brushing up to the age of two. This is because young children swallow toothpaste and if the toothpaste is enriched with fluoride, swallowing too much can lead to tooth discolouration in permanent teeth. Ask your dentist if toothpaste should be used. Also, check the manufacturer’s label; some toothpastes are not recommended in children under the age of six. If a toothpaste is to be used, squeeze out about a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste onto the toothbrush.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and just before bed. Spend two minutes brushing, concentrating a good portion of this time on the back molars. This is an area where cavities often first develop.
- Replace the toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear. Never share a toothbrush with others.
- Start flossing your child’s teeth once a day as soon as two teeth emerge that touch.
- Ask your dentist about your child’s fluoride needs. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, fluoride supplements or fluoride treatments may be needed.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants. These are thin, plastic protective barriers that fill in the chewing surfaces of the teeth, protecting them from tooth decay
- When should children brush and floss on their own?
Most children lack the coordination to brush or floss their teeth on their own until about the age of six or seven. Up until this time, remember that the best way to teach a child how to brush their teeth is to lead by example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches them the importance of good oral hygiene.
How safe is fluoride for my child?
Fluoride is safe for children and good for their teeth, as long as it is not used to excess. Fluoride is a natural mineral that protects and strengthens the teeth against the formation of cavities. Using it early in your child’s life will provide extra protection for developing teeth. Find out if your tap water contains fluoride by calling your local water authority. If your tap water does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist if you should give your child a fluoride supplement.