Good dental habits start in our youngest years. Teaching our children how to brush properly gives them a lifelong health skill. Not only does it help their independence and confidence, it really can help them stay healthier. In this article, we’d like to address some of the most common questions about childhood brushing, such as:
Why should my kids brush their baby teeth, if they are going to fall out anyway?
To some, it may seem counterintuitive to clean something that is temporary and will eventually fall out. However, getting your children to start brushing those baby teeth will help prepare them to care for their permanent adult teeth. Remember, practice makes perfect. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to establish a new routine, even an important one like brushing teeth. Furthermore, deciduous teeth (a fancy word for baby teeth) can still be subject to decay, plaque, and other bacteria that can lead to pain, infection and/or illness. So brushing those tiny chompers is very important!
When should my child start brushing?
Believe it or not, you can start teaching your little one to brush with his or her very first tooth! Of course, you’ll want to be the one doing the brushing until your children are old enough to hold the brush themselves (around 2 or 3 years old). You’ll also want to supervise them and even brush and floss again after they are done, until they are old enough to handle the entire process of tooth care (using the correct amount of paste, flossing, rinsing, etc.). Your kid’s dentist can help you decide when it’s appropriate to let your child do it independently.
How should my child brush?
Brushing isn’t just about swishing a brush around a few times; there really is a right way to do it. The brush should be held so the bristles are at an angle about 45 degrees, to the gums. The proper motion for tooth brushing is small circular motions on each tooth surface. Make sure you and/or your child does it softly, with short strokes. Scrubbing too hard can actually damage the gums or cheeks. Do not forget to brush all surfaces of the teeth and the tongue, as well. And of course, be sure to thoroughly clean the brush and place it somewhere safe to dry.
Caring for your child’s teeth and gums is a very important daily habit that should not be overlooked. In fact, good oral hygiene starts at birth, long before your baby grows his or her first tooth – unless of course your child was born with teeth! By practicing tooth care basics right from the start, you’re ensuring your child’s overall health by keeping their teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
How to care for a baby’s mouth
Once your baby is just a few days old, it is important to start caring for their gumsafter feedings. To do this, gently wipe their gums using a clean, wet washcloth or disposable gauze. This will help keep the bacteria and plaque from building up and causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or other oral conditions. When your baby’s teeth do start to come in, you can begin using a baby-sized toothbrush. A light smear of fluoridated toothpaste can be used for children under the age of two. You know you put the right amount of toothpaste on if you can still see the majority of the tips of the bristles.
How to care for your toddler’s mouth
Manual dexterity takes years to develop, which is why toddlers are not very coordinated with their hands. Between the ages of 8 to 10 years is when a child finally has sufficient coordination to properly brush their own teeth. Until then, it is recommended that an adult do the brushing. If your child likes to brush his or her own teeth, then follow up and brush the teeth after your child does. A child size toothbrush and pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste is what should be used to brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. Don’t rush. Take your time. It’s important that your child brushes a minimum of two minutes because the fluoride in toothpaste needs a full two minutes to help the teeth.
How to brush your child’s teeth
To effectively clean your child’s teeth and gums, hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle so that the bristles are aimed where the tooth and the gums meet. This will clean the area where plaque likes to build up. Also, be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth when doing so. That means brushing the cheek surfaces of the teeth, the tongue surfaces of the teeth, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Don’t forget to brush the tongue as well to help with keeping the breath fresh. The tongue is like a giant sponge that absorbs everything we eat as well the bacteria that live in the mouth. Don’t brush too far back on the tongue so you don’t gag your child!
After brushing your child’s teeth and when they begin brushing on their own, be sure that you thoroughly wash the toothbrush after each use and replace the toothbrush every three months. Your child should also be spitting out any excess toothpaste from their mouths and not swallowing the toothpaste.
How to floss your child’s teeth
Once your child has grown enough teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing. Be gentle by gliding the floss between the teeth until it reaches the gum line. Next, curve it around each tooth and gently rub the floss up and down on the tooth to remove plaque and food. Flossing in a back and forth, or sawing motion, does not clean between the teeth and can damage the gums
Visit a kid’s dentist
It is important for your child to begin visiting the dentist as soon as possible. This will help the child eliminate the fear of the dentist and continually encourage proper oral hygiene.
Baby’s first tooth is a momentous milestone. It is a sign that your baby is growing. Soon you will be able to begin introducing solid foods. But first you both have to survive the teething process!
When Teething Begins
The average child will begin teething around the age of six months. However, some kids are born with teeth; some begin the process at 3 months; others don’t see the first tooth until the first birthday. Kids may experience a lot of discomfort, letting their parents know something is amiss. Others are surprised to discover that the first tooth has erupted without warning. Consider yourself and your child fortunate if he or she goes through the teething process with no discomfort! The teething process usually is done around the age of 3.
How Many Teeth Can We Expect?
Considering how rough teething can be. It is no wonder that new parents want to know how many times they (and their child) are going to have to go through the process. On average, your child will have 20 primary teeth, about a dozen less than permanent ones. But don’t panic! Teeth erupt in pairs and not every tooth is going to cause discomfort. Usually just the first few and the molars are the most uncomfortable.
What Can We Expect?
Every parent has heard the horror stories of babies that scream all night or spike high fevers when teething. You may notice your child drooling more than usual and chewing on toys, fingers, or things they normally would not. Others can become irritable, develop rashes, pull on their ears, spike a fever, or even appear as if they have a cold. Diarrhea and coughing have also been reported. Although you should never dismiss these symptoms, if your child’s gums seem red and irritated even though they have been getting brushed routinely, the odds are good that your child is not sick; they’re simply working on getting a tooth.
What Should We Do?
Parents feel helpless when their child isn’t feeling well. Add loss of sleep to these feelings and teething can become a long process for all to endure. Here are a few tips for getting through the experience:
- Offer your child some soothing items. A cool, damp wash cloth is usually comforting for a teething child to chew on. Teething rings may also help to ease the discomfort of the teething process. Make sure this is not too cold or frozen because this can further irritate the child’s gums. Think about Ralphie’s tongue getting stuck to the flag pole in “A Christmas Story.” Instead of freezing it, place the teething ring in the back of the refrigerator instead.
- Use Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen as needed. If your child is in pain, or develops a low grade fever, an over-the-counter pain reliever may help.
- Offer cold drinks and food. If your child is old enough to eat ice cream, cold yogurt, or cold applesauce, these foods can help. Cold foods and drinks can soothe irritated gums.
- Offer counter pressure. Some babies respond quite well to parents firmly rubbing irritated gums. Others may be too uncomfortable.
Helping a child deal with the pain and discomfort of teething isn’t always easy and is usually a trial and error experience. Try several different methods of relief until you find what works best for your little teether.
When you become a parent, worry becomes a normal part of life. Whether it’s sending the kids off to school or worrying about the latest virus in the media, every parent manages their fear of the unknown daily. One area where parents should not worry is their children’s teeth. Teaching your young ones to make good choices about food and proper oral care goes a long way toward creating a healthy, happy human being.
Tooth decay remains a significant problem in dental care. Any kid’s dentist will tell you that it is imperative to educate yourself and your young ones about making good choices. Tooth decay begins when food containing lots of sugar and starch (foods that make up a significant portion of the American diet today) is used by bacteria in our mouth to create acids. These acids begin to slowly eat away the enamel that makes up our teeth. The loss of minerals in teeth due to these acids (demineralization) will cause tooth decay over time as teeth begin to weaken and decay.
Young children and adolescents are especially susceptible to these dangers due to their diet. Schools, fast food restaurants, and the snack aisle contain lots of opportunities to choose foods that could cause tooth decay. Sugar laden foods, fruit juices, and snacks all begin problems that your kid’s dentist finally sees during a visit to the office. Small choices every day about what we eat influences dental hygiene, good or bad.
Creating good dental hygiene habits in your children is especially important. Habits start early and can make the difference between strong teeth and tooth decay. Childhood tooth decay, also known as pediatric dental disease, remains the #1 chronic childhood illness. Early tooth decay often leads to greater problems such as pain and infections in the teeth and mouth. If tooth decay remains untreated, greater problems often occur as well. Difficulty eating or speaking due to pain may lead to malnourishment.
Making good choices about what your children are eating is the first and most important step in creating good, lifelong habits where food choices and tooth care are concerned. Any kid’s dentist will share their experiences with the problems created by our diet and what is in our food. Foods that fight tooth decay and promote dental health are especially important.
Calcium rich foods, such as milk and other dairy products, help build tooth and general bone strength. Fiber rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, help create natural defenses for our teeth. Whole grains, with their high amount of iron and B vitamins, help promote healthy gums. Combining these foods in your child’s diet will help ensure that every visit to your kid’s dentist is as pleasant as possible. Coupling good food choices with the recommended regimen of flossing, brushing, and regular visits to the dentist will ensure your young one’s teeth are healthy and strong.
Taking care of your young and growing child is a big responsibility. A multitude of things exist to protect children from in this day and age. How to properly care for teeth shouldn’t be a large source of worry. Consult your kid’s dentist to talk about what you can do to help ensure that your young ones grow up with healthy teeth. They will thank you for it years later when the good practices you taught remain with them as adults.
To continue from last week’s blog post regarding dental care for babies, we felt it is necessary to talk about other baby habits that can affect oral hygiene such as using a pacifier or the baby sucking on their thumb.
According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, here is a list of quick facts regarding pacifier/thumb sucking:
- Babies suck on their thumb or pacifier for pleasure, comfort and security. This habit can start before they are even born.
- The AAPD recommends pacifiers over thumbs to comfort new babies. The pacifier habit is typically easier to break and could decrease the chance of orthodontic problems.
- Thumb or pacifier sucking is normal for infants and children. Usually children will stop on their own, however if the child doesn’t, the habit should be discouraged by the age of 3.
- Thumb or pacifier sucking can affect the teeth the same way. After a long period of time, there may be affects with the upper front teeth sticking outward. Other potential effects include problems with jaw alignment, tooth positioning or the bite.
It is very important that you visit a pediatric dentist or a dentist who devotes most of his or her time to children, by the age of one year. As time goes on, support from your pediatric dentist, as well as family, can help children quit the pacifier or thumb sucking habit!
Here at Playtime Dental we care about your child’s oral health! We are here to share with the world, how to prevent cavities and keep the mouth healthy!
People wonder, why clean your baby’s mouth when they don’t have any teeth? We want to clean the mouth even without teeth because plaque from food can accumulate and bacteria can still grow and cause problems for the gums! Also by doing so, this will prevent the bacteria from sticking to your baby’s gums which can help avoid damage to the teeth as they erupt, as well as prevent bad breath. So it is important to gently wipe your baby’s gums at least twice a day or after each meal.
It is recommended by American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, that a child have his or her first dental visit by the age of 1! Here is an equation to help: 1 + 1 = 0. Let me guess, in thinking back to your elementary math days, you learned that 1 + 1 =2 not zero. However, in this scenario 1 + 1 = 0 because ONE dental visit when there is ONE baby tooth can equal ZERO cavities!
After consulting with your dentist, you can graduate to using a toothbrush once the baby has a tooth or two. The toothbrush needs to have soft bristles and be small enough to fit comfortably in your baby’s mouth. You can start using a smear of fluoridated toothpaste around age 1. Carefully supervise your children when using toothpaste so they are not swallowing it!
Babies can “catch” cavities from their caregivers. In 71 percent of the cases, the mother is the source.
Research indicates that the cavity-causing bacteria known as Streptococcus mutants can be transmitted from mothers to infants even before teeth erupt! The better the mother’s oral health, the less the chance the baby will have problems.
All in all, being a proactive parent will not only benefit your child’s oral hygiene but also help start making a routine dental visit a positive experience for your kiddos!