There are so many questions about the best way to care for your children’s teeth, how long should you take care of them, what happens when wisdom teeth come in, use fluoride or don’t use fluoride? And if you are the parent of a young one, you’re probably up with the child as they are teething! It can all make your head spin.
Over the month of August we are going to review tips on caring for your children’s teeth, answer some of your common questions, review products for your children, share the top five things that cause cavities and most common problems we see in children’s mouths. It is going to be a full month, but we hope at the end of it you feel confident in knowing you’ve got your child’s teeth under control!
In this feature we will cover everything about caring for teeth from brushing, toothpaste and flossing.
Brushing Your Children’s Teeth
Brushing is top of everyone’s list. Yes, it does need to be done twice a day and for two minutes! Here are some tips/recommendations to help:
- Start brushing as soon as you see your child’s first tooth!
- Children should be encouraged to brush their own teeth as soon as they can hold the brush and have enough dexterity to brush. Make it a fun game to see how many teeth they can brush. This is helping them develop good habits and making it a part of their routine.
- For young children parents should brush after the children do to ensure all teeth are clean. Continue this until your child is at least six years old, but then actively supervise the brushing to make sure they are doing a good job. Every child is different as to when they are ready to make the full transition.
- As a parent brushing be sure you don’t scrub too hard! You want to make gentle circles.
While two minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, keeping a child still for that long (no matter their age!) can be tricky. We recommend using a timer for two reasons. Young children have no concept of time and secondly when they are older they may just want to hurry through and be done. Play a favorite song and have them brush until it is done or there are some great Apps available that make it a “fun game” as it counts down the two minutes.
Toothpaste Tips for Kids
The question we hear a lot – fluoride or no fluoride? When do you use toothpaste? Check out our recommendations!
- Infants are OK without any toothpaste, simply a wet toothbrush will work. If you do want to use toothpaste use only the size of a single grain of rice.
- Beginning at 18 months to five years we recommend using a “kids” toothpaste WITH fluoride and only using a pea size amount. It has less fluoride than an adult size incase your child swallows it.
- Start working with them on spitting the toothpaste out after brushing so it becomes a habit.
- Always purchase fluoride toothpaste as the children continue to grow. It will be important for their overall oral health.
When to Start Flossing
Flossing is most important when your children’s teeth begin to touch each other. If you look in your child’s mouth and their teeth have big spaces between all of them, then brushing is likely going to remove the majority of the plaque. If your child’s teeth are tightly touching together, then there will be plaque that gets stuck in between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach, this is when flossing is necessary.
It is often necessary to do the flossing for the child until they are able to maneuver on their own. A flosser with a handle may make it easier to accomplish this!
When your child is in the 15 -18 year old range your dentist at Mint Hill Dentistry will take a “panoramic X-Ray” to evaluate their wisdom teeth during one of their regularly scheduled hygiene appointments. We will review these images to ensure the teeth are progressing normally and will address any concerns with you.
If you or the child has any concerns or symptoms regarding wisdom teeth before this time, then call the office for a consultation. Just remember once they come through, it is a long way back there to keep them clean!
We hope we have help answer some of your questions regarding the care of your children’s teeth. Keep an eye out for our next post on types of products to use with your children. As always we are happy to speak to you about concerns you may have and look forward to seeing each of you at their six-month dental cleanings!