Parents: maybe you can remember the phases of tooth growth development you experienced as a child, such as losing your first tooth, or your favorite flavor of toothpaste!
But if not, here’s a reminder of the things it’s great for you to watch out for and help with to ensure your child’s oral health:
Until they’re old enough to look after their own teeth (usually around age 8), you should help your child brush their teeth twice a day for a couple of minutes each time. The advantages of doing this are:
- Healthier teeth
- Fresher breath
- Fewer cavities
What Type of Toothbrush does my Child Need?
There are special, softer toothbrushes for kids that help them reach all areas of the mouth. Always replace brushes when the bristles start to wear out and wilt at the sides. This usually happens after 3 to 4 months, sometimes sooner.
What Toothpaste Should my Child Use (and How Much)?
You can buy toothpastes with formulas especially for children. All should contain fluoride (except for very young children). Around the size of a garden pea is the about the right amount of toothpaste to put on a brush for 4 year olds and over. A bit less—about the size of a grain of rice—for the younger ones.
Tips for Teaching Kids to Brush Their Teeth
Remember, some of the things we think are obvious, aren’t obvious to kids who’ve never done this before:
- Ensure they spit out the toothpaste after brushing and don’t swallow it
- Regular brushing should begin as soon as the first teeth appear, but for kids under 3, only use a tiny amount of toothpaste—about the size of a grain of rice
- Show them how to hold the toothbrush at an angle against their teeth and gums
- Demonstrate the best way to brush, back and forth using gentle, short strokes
- Remember to tell them to brush every tooth, front and back, top jaw, and bottom jaw
- Brush Your Tongue! Help them remove bacteria from their mouth and keep their breath fresh by brushing their tongue, too!
Oral Healthcare for Babies
A baby´s teeth start to form during pregnancy. By the time the baby is born, a full set of primary teeth has begun to form underneath the baby’s gums.
- Clean gums with a damp cloth after feeding even before teeth erupt
- Begin brushing as soon as the first tooth appears
- Use a gentle rubbing motion on the surface of the tooth and gum line
- If you’re using toothpaste, ensure it’s fluoride-free. Too much fluoride at so young an age can affect the healthy development of teeth and bones
Oral Healthcare for Toddlers
- Brush teeth for one minute in the mornings and evenings, placing the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum and tooth
- It’s OK to start using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste when your child is 2 or 3
- Flossing should begin when your child grows teeth that touch each one another
Oral Healthcare for School-Age Kids
- Children should be able to start brushing and flossing by themselves at around age 8
- Remember to remind them to brush for 2 minutes and to reach all teeth
- Keep an eye on their teeth to ensure they’re brushing correctly. Food or plaque around the gum line are tell-tale signs that brushing is not being performed correctly
- Children can chew sugar-free gum to help generate saliva that naturally cleans teeth
- Encourage your child to limit their sugar intake. Studies suggest that the frequency of sugar intake does more damage than the quantity, because repeatedly exposing the mouth and teeth to sugar prevents saliva from naturally cleaning the teeth