Even though baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth, it is important to look after them to prevent premature loss of teeth which can cause loss of space resulting in functional and aesthetic problems with the adult teeth. It is also beneficial to look after baby teeth well so when kids get their adult teeth, they already have good oral hygiene habits and will be less at risk for decay or gum disease.
When to Start Brushing Baby Teeth
A kid’s first tooth normally erupts at around 6 months of age. Before any teeth are present a damp face cloth can be used to gently wipe off any milk build-up on the gums. As soon as the first tooth erupts, an adult should be brushing 2x day (morning and night) with a soft kid’s toothbrush and a smear of kids age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste, no bigger than a grain of rice and rinsing with a small amount of water to avoid excessive ingestion.
Between the ages of 3-6 kids should be using a green pea-sized amount of kid’s toothpaste and rinsing with a small amount of water, if unable to spit out excess toothpaste properly. The adult should still be brushing the kid’s teeth up to the age of 7 as children do not have very good manual dexterity. To get your child practising it is a good idea for them to have a go at brushing first and then the adult brushes again. Brushing should always be for 2 mins – it is helpful to get a timer in the bathroom or brush along with a song.
How to Brush Children's Teeth
When brushing, the biting surfaces of the teeth and the tongue can be “scrubbed” and the rest of the surfaces should be brushed in a gentle circular motion. When the child is brushing it is easier for them to close and brush top and bottom teeth in big circles. When the adult is brushing it is better to focus on one area at a time and brush in circles at an angle towards the gums.
After the eruption of the adult front teeth, the child can switch to an adult strength toothpaste, using about a 2cm ribbon on their brush. At this age, the child should no longer be rinsing after brushing but just spitting out the excess, since the fluoride in the toothpaste is the best chance of protecting the teeth.
Food, Drinks, and your Child's Oral Health
In addition to good oral hygiene habits, it is important to limit the intake of acidic and sugary foods and drinks as excessive or prolonged exposure to the teeth will cause decay. If having any sort of sweetened or flavoured drink (i.e. juice, soft drink, cordial) it is best to consume at mealtimes rather than throughout the day and ideally with a straw. Sweets such as lollies or chocolates are also best consumed in one sitting straight after a meal rather than nibbling on throughout the day. After consuming something sweet or fizzy it is best to rinse the mouth out with tap water to remove any excess product off the teeth. For young children using a bottle, it is advised that no flavouring or sweeteners are added to their bottle and they do not go to sleep with it.
Children's Dentistry in Tamworth
If you are looking for a dentist for your child, contact our dental clinic in Tamworth. We would love to help your child with their smile and teach them strong habits like brushing and flossig.