Brushing Your Child's Teeth
A tooth should be cleaned as soon as it erupts. By starting early, a child gets used to proper oral hygiene. A wet cloth wrapped around the parent's finger can replace the toothbrush until at least four teeth have erupted.
Advice to follow while brushing
- Choose a small, soft toothbrush. Dipping it in warm water will soften the bristles even more.
- Use only children's toothpaste which does not contain fluoride until the age of three. Young children can swallow the toothpaste and ingesting fluoride in large quantities may cause dental fluorosis on the adult teeth. There are also some toothpastes that are not recommended for children under the age of six, therefore it is important to read the manufacturer's label.
- It is recommended to brush the child's teeth twice a day, in the morning after breakfast and in the evening before bedtime. The brushing should last two minutes, and more emphasis should be put on the molars in the back since they are the teeth most susceptible to decay.
- Change a toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if there are signs of wear. A toothbrush should not be shared between kids.
- Floss the child's teeth, as soon as there are two adjacent teeth in the mouth.
- Ask the dentist about putting sealants on the primary molars to protect them against cavities.
Age of children when they should start brushing their teeth
Most children lack the ability to brush their own teeth until 6-7 years old. Until then, the best way to teach brushing and flossing is by showing example. This will allow the child to observe the parent and learn proper oral hygiene methods.
Showing by example how to brush and floss also allows the parents to maintain proper oral hygiene. By reducing the amount of bacteria present in the parents' mouth, the transfer of harmful bacteria between the parents and the child is also reduced.
Fluoride for kids
Most dentists and dental associations have confirmed that fluoride is safe. In reality, it is a mineral element that reinforces teeth and protects them against cavities.
It is recommended to find out if the tap water from the city already has fluoride. If it does not, fluoride supplements purchased from a pharmacy can be given to children.
Excessive consumption of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis. These are harmless lesions that cause tooth discolouration.
Toothpaste for children
Most toothpaste has flavours that children enjoy, to encourage them to brush their teeth. It is important to read the manufacturer's label because some toothpastes are not recommended for children under a certain age.
In general, mouthwashes should not be used by young children that have not yet developed the ability to rinse and spit. They usualy learn this around the age of six.
It is important to remember that mouthwashes do not replace brushing and flossing. Mouthwashes do not clean teeth.
Last update: June 20th 2008.