Healthy Teeth for Life
Healthy teeth are the key to a healthy childhood. Kids need them for chewing, speaking clearly and having a bright smile. And thanks to advances in dentistry and oral care products, today’s children are more likely than ever to grow up with strong, healthy teeth. As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s dental health. In fact, good oral care begins with you.
A lifetime of good oral health can be a reality for your child if you get him or her off on the right track early. Keep them motivated by setting a good example yourself and create a consistent and fun environment around your oral care routine. Soon, they’ll learn to recognize it as part of their daily routine, just like eating breakfast or reading a bedtime story.
How should I brush my child’s teeth?
You should follow the same approach that you would take when brushing your own teeth. It often helps to stand behind your child and tilt his or her head back.
- Start by cleaning the chewing surfaces with a soft-bristled, children’s toothbrush using short back and forth strokes.
- For the outer teeth surfaces, place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle toward the gum line.
- Move the brush back and forth in short, gentle strokes.
- To clean the inner front tooth surfaces, hold the brush vertically and use gentle up and down strokes with the tip of the brush.
- Make sure the gum line and back teeth are cleaned thoroughly.
Replace your child’s toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first.
By age three or four, your child should be able to brush his or her own teeth, with your help of course. To make it easier, start your child off with a simple brushing technique, for example, a small, circular brushing motion.
When should children start brushing on their own?
While it varies from child to child, generally children under age eight will need help brushing their teeth. And whether you are still brushing your child’s teeth or just supervising, you should follow these simple guidelines:
- Brush at least twice a day-in the morning and just before bed.
- Spend two minutes brushing-concentrating on the chewing surfaces and back teeth, where cavities often first develop.
- Use a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste. Teach your child to rinse and spit out any toothpaste left after brushing.
- Look for a brush that is suitable for your child’s age and dexterity.
- Don’t share brushes between children.
- Brushing your teeth together sets a good example and helps your child to learn by watching and imitating you.
Tooth decay, or cavities, used to be a certainty. But the arrival of fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste has changed that. Fluoride is a natural mineral that safely strengthens tooth enamel (the hard outer “shell” of your tooth) and helps stop cavities from forming.
Children can really benefit from fluoride. In fact, in communities where fluoride has been added to the drinking water, children have up to 50 percent fewer cavities!
If your child isn’t getting enough fluoride from the drinking water, or they continue to get cavities, your dental professional may suggest a fluoride treatment.