Kids, as you’ve probably noticed already, are constantly growing. As they do, their oral care needs change and develop, as well. So it’s important to make sure you choose products that are designed for each stage of your child’s development.
How early is too early to establish a brushing routine?
Good oral care starts even before teeth appear. The American Academy of Pediactrics recommends that, after feedings, parents wipe a baby’s gums with a soft washcloth or a baby toothbrush using water only. Once a child reaches 12 months of age, start brushing any existing teeth twice each day.
Helpful brushing tips:
- The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bedtime. Supervise brushing until good habits are established.
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Hard ones scrape the gums.
- Change the brush every three months or sooner if it wears out.
- Put a timer in the bathroom. Set it for two minutes. According to dental recommendations, two minutes is what it takes to get the job done, and kids often have difficulty keeping time.
- For children age two and up, a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste is recommended.
- Clean chewing surfaces by using short, back-and-forth strokes. Brush two or three teeth at a time.
- Clean outer tooth surfaces by placing the toothbrush at a 45° angle toward the gum line. Use gentle, short strokes, moving the brush back and forth against the teeth and gums.
- Clean the inner tooth surfaces by holding the brush vertically and using gentle up-and-down strokes with the tip of the brush.
- Brush with your child to set a good example.
- Avoid sticky and sugary foods and drinks. They can cause decay (cavities).
If your child is under two, fluoride-free toothpaste is the way to go.
Before the age of two, kids shouldn’t use products that contain fluoride because it’s not meant to be swallowed, and that can prove tricky for young toddlers. For parents of children under two that want to start training their child for using toothpaste in the future, some dentists recommend using a non-fluoride toothpaste. It’s always best to ask your child’s pediatrician or dentist to be sure.
Over two? Make brushing stage-appropriate.
For children old enough to brush with fluoride toothpaste, look for fun, kid-approved flavors like berry or bubblegum. This helps make brushing a little easier, since kids like the taste.
Holiday Candy. Without Any Holiday Cavities.
Some special days like Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, have a lot of candy eating associated with them. Here’s how to keep your kids from spoiling their teeth without spoiling all the fun.
Another helpful tip when it comes to candy? There’s more saliva in your mouth after eating, which helps protect teeth. So save the candy for after meal.
Finally, encourage your children to drink more water as this has been reported to help prevent tooth decay.
Keeping Brushing Fun And Imaginative For A Lifetime Of Healthy Habits
Sing a song or recite a nursery rhyme to make the recommended two-minute brushing time pass more quickly. Choose a toothbrush and paste that features your child’s favorite characters; then pretend they’re brushing with you and your child. And consider creating a brushing chart to record each brushing session, incorporating check boxes for morning and evening. When the chart is complete, treat your child to a reward for being a good little brusher.