Your child’s baby teeth are -- in a way, their practice teeth. What they learn now will help them develop the skills they need to take care of their adult teeth.
Primary teeth or permanent teeth, you should always work to maintain the health of your child’s teeth. But no matter how focused on dental hygiene you are, you can’t control them at every moment. Children may try their best to brush well, but they’re prone to getting distracted. They love sneaking little bits of sugar they know they’re not supposed to have, and they might happen to find a lollipop after they’ve already brushed.
Cavities are drawn to children’s teeth like there’s some sort of unseen magnetism between the two. Children will find germs that haven’t been invented yet. They’ll take a bath and come out dirtier. They’re going to make a lot of fundamental mistakes when learning proper hygiene practices.
Supplying them with the right tools will increase their chances of successfully mastering their personal hygiene routines. Give them a toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a mouthwash that will work in unison to prevent cavities. Don’t forget to be a little patient while they’re learning how to use them, too.
When Should You Start Brushing Children’s Teeth?
Teeth should be cleaned as soon as they appear. Before 18 months, children’s teeth should be brushed with a soft bristled brush and plain water. After 18 months, make the transition to a safe toothpaste.
Pediatricians may have different advice. As soon as your toddler’s teeth begin to emerge, ask your pediatrician or family doctor how and when they recommend cleaning those teeth. It’s best to follow the advice of a medical professional who is familiar with your child.
When Can Children Brush on Their Own?
You’ll find all sorts of conflicting information about when children can brush their teeth on their own. Some dentists say that you should supervise and help your child as young as three years of age. Other dentists say that children shouldn’t brush their own teeth at all until they’re ten years old, and recommend supervising every brushing until they reach age twelve.
If you’re thinking it’s absurd to brush a ten year old’s teeth, you’re not alone. Many parents refuse to follow this recommendation, instead preferring to properly educate their child and occasionally supervising or touching base to make sure the child is brushing correctly.
Let your child attempt to brush their own teeth whenever they express an interest in doing so. The best time for your child to brush on his or her own is when you don’t have to say anything while you supervise.
If you see your child properly following their dental hygiene routine without making significant mistakes, that child is ready to brush independently with minimal supervision.
Mistakes can be made on both ends. It may appear that your child is using adequate pressure or the right motions, but they might be missing spots. That’s why frequent dental checkups are important for young children. Follow up with your dentist to ascertain how well your child is brushing independently. If they need more coaching or a different strategy, abide by the dentist’s advice.
It’s also important to note that independently flossing might be a little more difficult than independently brushing. Flossing is kind of a pain to do, and that’s why so many people unfortunately skip this crucial step. Disposable single-use floss picks may be a great training tool for children who are still developing motor coordination.
What Happens When Children Get Cavities?
Children absolutely love sugary foods and drinks, and so do oral bacteria. The bacteria that cause plaque and tooth decay enjoy the same treats as the average child, and they excrete that sugar into cavity-causing acid that erodes right through the enamel of a baby tooth.
About 42% of children ages 2 to 11 will have at least one cavity in their baby teeth. Cavities may be painful to children, but some of them may not even notice.
Cavities in young children are typically treated with dental fillings. Older children with cavities in loosening baby teeth may not be worth fixing. If the adult tooth is going to emerge soon, your dentist might recommend extracting the impacted tooth or merely waiting it out, depending on the severity of the cavity.
Why Can’t Children Have Fluoride?
Fluoride is billed by the American Dental Association as the greatest thing to ever happen to modern dentistry. It helps to restore enamel, prevent cavities, and lower instances of tooth decay in the general population.
If it’s so wonderful, why can’t children under the age of 6 have it? After all, they have nearly a full mouth of primary teeth. They’re in an age bracket where nearly half of them will experience cavities.
If you’ve ever seen “Training Toothpastes” for children new to toothbrushing, you’ve probably noticed that they’re also labeled as fluoride-free. In young children whose adult teeth are still forming inside of their gums, fluoride actually causes more problems that it solves.
Fluoride is not an essential mineral. Our bodies have no inherent need for fluoride. It takes the place of hydroxyapatite, which is the substance tooth enamel is made of. Fluoride bonds to teeth to strengthen them and prevent cavities and enamel erosion. It also builds up inside of the body with nowhere to go.
Children learning to brush have a tendency to swallow toothpaste. When they swallow fluoride toothpaste, the excess fluoride accumulates on the tooth buds inside of their gums. This makes their incoming adult teeth stronger, until it makes them deformed.
Children are at risk of a condition called dental fluorosis. If they exceed the recommended maximum dosage of fluoride, the excess fluoride doesn’t leave. It causes their adult teeth to emerge looking stained with scratched or pitted surfaces where the fluoride has unevenly settled. Dental fluorosis occurs in nearly 25% of children in the United States. The only way to avoid it is to avoid fluoride.
Children are already getting fluoride from the public water supply and trace amounts in everything they eat and drink. Adding fluoridated toothpaste into the mix may not be the wisest decision for your child’s oral health.
Choosing the Right Toothpaste for Children
The best toothpaste for children is a fluoride-free toothpaste that will remove plaque and prevent cavities.
Check the ingredients list for coral calcium and xylitol. Coral calcium naturally remineralizes teeth, preventing cavities without fluoride. Xylitol creates a film over teeth that keeps bad bacteria out. This barrier is necessary for children with an insatiable sweet tooth.
Choosing the Right Toothbrush For Children
Soft toothbrushes are better not just for children, but for everyone. There’s no reason to use a firm toothbrush. They scratch your enamel and irritate our gums, worsening the health of your mouth.
A soft bristled toothbrush and a little patience are all you need to properly clean your teeth. Make sure you’re giving your child the right brush.
Choosing the Right Mouthwash for Children
Alcohol-based mouthwashes destroy the oral microbiome. This means that they kill good bacteria as well as bad bacteria. You don’t want to eliminate the bacteria responsible for maintaining the health of your child’s mouth.
Most mouthwashes aren’t recommended for use by children. Children might inadvertently swallow some mouthwash and wind up with a tummy full of alcohol. Avoid this problem by choosing an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash that’s still generally safe when swallowed.
Nano silver has been extensively studied. This natural antibacterial ingredient is a bacteria-destroying powerhouse that won’t harm probiotic bacteria or the mouth’s natural biofilm. Although nano silver isn’t intended to be swallowed, it’s harmless. It will pass through your child’s body in as little as 24 hours without causing any unpleasant side effects.
Teaching Children Good Oral Hygiene Habits
While the toothpaste, the toothbrush, and the mouthwash you choose all play a role in your child’s oral hygiene habits, nothing will work better than your patience and willingness to teach. Some children learn faster than others. Impatient children might want to rush through their oral care routine to go do something more fun.
Proper oral hygiene practices are something that your child will depend on for the rest of his or her life. Take your time to teach your child how to brush and explain why brushing is so important. Teach them about cavities and oral bacteria.
Explain that their teeth have to last for forever. When you emphasize its importance, your child may become eager to learn.
Preventing cavities in children involves more than just toothpaste. Explaining the importance of proper dental hygiene and helping your child master an effective brushing technique are equally as valuable as using an anticavity toothpaste.
Set your child up for the long term by emphasizing the importance and positive impact of great habits.