From cleaning your child’s gums as an infant to having him or her brush twice a day, it’s crucial to get your child into an effective oral health routine at a young age. Flossing, brushing, and even choosing the right toothpaste can be tricky when little fingers are in charge. Here are some tips for establishing great oral hygiene habits – and avoiding cavities – at any age.
How Often Should My Children Brush Their Teeth?
The general rule for children and adults is to brush twice a day, first thing in the morning and then again before bedtime. Many adults may not know that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that we all brush our teeth for two minutes each time – including moms and dads! Because of this, it’s a good idea to get your little ones in the habit of spending some time in front of the sink – paying particular attention to the back molars where first cavities often occur.
How Do I Brush My Baby’s Teeth?
The ADA recommends cleaning your baby’s gums before teeth come in and then brushing your child’s teeth for them as soon as they appear. Parents can start with a washcloth and then move on to a soft-bristled brush with a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste. Around the age of three, children can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Cleaning the teeth and gums at an early age is important from an oral hygiene standpoint, but it is also crucial to establishing a routine with your young child. With your help, your toddler will know from the outset that cleaning his or her teeth is an important daily habit.
How Can I Help My Young Children Learn Good Brushing Habits?
For preschool and elementary aged children, supervision and role-modeling are key. Parents often need to help until their children are six or seven years old, but some children may require supervision until they are ten or eleven to ensure they’re brushing correctly. Preschool-aged children are also very in tune with what mom and dad are up to, so ensure that they see you flossing and brushing every day!
What Kind of Toothpaste Should My Child Use?
Parents have plenty of options when selecting toothpaste for their children. The choices can be a little overwhelming. We recommend fluoride toothpaste for children three years old and over as this ingredient plays an essential role in strengthening tooth enamel. For children under ten, we typically recommend a toothpaste formulated for kids since the abrasives found in adult toothpaste may be too harsh. Most importantly, look for the ADA seal of acceptance on the toothpaste you choose: this means the product has been evaluated for safety and effectiveness and offers the cavity protection that your child needs.
Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about choosing the right toothpaste. You can also ask your dentist about using an oral rinse for extra protection after the age of six.
Children and Flossing
While brushing usually comes naturally after a little practice, it may take a bit longer to get the hang of flossing. The ADA recommends that children and adults floss once a day. Children are often not able to floss properly on their own until ten or eleven years old, so they’ll probably need your help. Children can certainly use regular dental floss, and many prefer it. But some families opt for pre-threaded flossers – especially to get started. The good news is that the ADA says when you floss is up to you; it doesn’t need to be before or after brushing. If mornings or after school is a better time to floss than before bed when everyone’s tired from the day, make that part of your routine!
As with brushing, setting a good example is important when it comes to flossing. According to a 2014 ADA survey, only four out of ten American adults floss daily – and twenty percent never floss! Make sure that it is part of your own routine so that you can pass this vital oral hygiene step onto your kids!
Working with Your Pediatric Dentist to Create Great Habits
Your pediatric dentist is committed to helping your children establish excellent hygiene habits from an early age. What we do in our office is important, but what families do at home is just as critical! Parents can help their children by setting up a solid oral hygiene routine for them to follow every day, and by serving as a good example for great oral health habits. Regular brushing and flossing, along with proper nutrition and regular dental check-ups, will keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong.
Our office is happy to help with product recommendations, and we have lots of tips and tricks for making brushing and flossing an enjoyable part of your child’s day. Just give us a call if you need any advice!