Tooth decay in children is a big problem all around the world. Around 4 out of 10 Australian children have cavities in their baby teeth. Brushing teeth is the most effective way to prevent cavities from forming and ensuring healthy teeth and gums. But how do you know when to start using toothpaste for your toddler? What type of toothpaste should you use? Is regular baby or kids toothpaste enough?? Let’s answer all these questions and more.
When Should I Start Brushing My Child’s Teeth?
You can start brushing as soon as your baby’s first tooth comes through the gums. Before the tooth erupts, you can clean the gums using a clean, damp washcloth or a finger brush. Gently wipe the gums, as well as the front of the tongue and below it. Do this at least twice a day. Once the first tooth comes through, you can buy a baby toothbrush or a finger brush. Your baby’s first toothbrush should be very soft to not hurt the gums while brushing. . Remember, not all children instinctively like to have their teeth brushed, so you might have to try a few times until they get used to it.
When Should My Child Start Using Toothpaste?
You can use toothpaste for your toddler from around 18months old. Before this just use water.. However, make sure you get a toddler toothpaste specially formulated to use for children. The main difference between a toothpaste made for children and adults is the amount of fluoride it contains.
Fluoride is a chemical found naturally in water and some foods and is one of the best ways to protect your toddler’s teeth. If you expose your toddler to too much fluoride, their teeth might form little white spots called fluorosis. The range of fluoride for children below the age of three should be at 500-550 parts per million (ppm) per smear. You can look at the fluoride content of any toothpaste for toddlers/babies by looking at the side of the tube. The manufacturer measures it at parts per million (ppm). Most toddler toothpaste is around 500ppm.
When Should I Increase The Amount of Toothpaste?
For children below the age of three, use a rice grain-sized amount of toothpaste. Once they turn three, increase the amount of children’s toothpaste to a small pea-sized amount. If you are unsure, you can always ask your dentist to show you the right amount of toothpaste for your children.
How Can I Get My Child To Want To Brush?
Brushing teeth is an integral part of having healthy teeth and gums, but not all children like to brush their teeth. The reasons can be varied:
- They might not like the taste of toothpaste. If this is the case, there are many different flavours of toddler/kids toothpaste from mild mint to berry to bubblegum. You can try them all until you find one your child will use. They might find the bristles too hard. Purchase a toothbrush with soft bristles, so it’s more pleasant to brush.
- They may have sensitive teeth that make brushing unpleasant. Ask your child if it hurts when they brush their teeth. If there is, speak to your child’s dentist about the issue.
If you’ve covered all of these, and your child still refuses to brush their teeth, perhaps your child finds brushing boring. Here are some ways to help make brushing time more fun and an activity to look forward to.
Reward Good Brushing Habits
Children love rewards, and giving prizes for brushing their teeth can be very effective. Pick a reward that you know your child will enjoy. This reward can be an extra bedtime story before bedtime, watching their favourite cartoon or even staying up 10 to 15 minutes past their bedtime. If you have more than one child, you can make it a friendly competition and see who can brush the best and fastest.
You can use any reward that you think might work, but stay clear of anything sweet that can cause tooth decay, especially before bedtime..
Make Brushing A Family Routine
Children often don’t like to listen to their parents, but will happily copy them. One of the best ways to teach your child how to brush their teeth is to show them. Brush your teeth with your child, and in no time, your child will follow your good brushing habits.
Two Minutes of Fun
Two minutes is the optimal recommended time to brush your teeth. To make sure your child gets into this habit, create two minutes of fun by brushing up on your child’s favourite song, watching a brushing video or cartoon on youtube (like the Wiggles’ Brush Your Teeth Healthy Me), or even maybe doing a special dance routine with your child. The possibilities are endless.
Have You Scheduled Your Child’s Dentist Appointment?
Brushing your child’s teeth with age-appropriate toothpaste and making it fun is a sure way to establish a good oral hygiene habit as they grow up. But don’t forget to make regular visits to your dentist to have your child’s teeth checked. Have you scheduled your child’s dentist appointment? Contact us today!