Children should be encouraged to have good dental hygiene habits from a young age. The child’s first tooth is when brushing should begin. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tooth decay in children is one of the most common, yet preventable problems in children. This is also known as childhood caries, or childhood tooth cavities. The good news is that all that has to be done is provide good oral and dental hygiene, and chances are most if not all childhood cavities are 100% preventable.
First off, check the child’s teeth. Till the child’s first tooth “erupts” (comes through the gum line) wipe the child’s gums off with a piece of gauze or a washcloth 2-3x a day to keep them clean and healthy. Healthy gums should be a light pink without any cuts, gashes, or lesions on them. When the first primary tooth “erupts” between 6 and 9 months old then brushing needs to begin. Schedule a dental examination by the child’s 1st birthday. In between 12-24 months brush the child’s teeth with more than just a plain brush and use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste. Toothpaste without fluoride is recommended till children can spit the toothpaste out reliably on their own. By 3 years of age children should have 20 primary teeth. Brush with a child-specified size toothbrush, and the best times of day are after breakfast and before bedtime.
Remember that healthy teeth in children should have no stains or marks on them. They should be a milky-white color. Flossing should begin soon as children have two teeth that can touch together where food can get caught. To help a child brush their teeth angle the brush at a 45-degree angle and move it gently back and forth over all present teeth. Brush all surfaces of the tooth thoroughly. Brush the tongue to remove any bacteria that may harm the child. For flossing cut off about 18 inches of floss and wrap one end around each of your middle fingers. Curve the floss into a “C” shape and gently push and glide between the baby’s teeth. Floss between all teeth, and behind the back ones.
Flossing will generally begin between 2 and 2.5 years old when the child’s first teeth are touching. Children will need assistance brushing generally till about age 6, and flossing till about 8-10 when they can wind and hold the floss properly to do it themselves. Floss holders can help the child learn proper techniques. Take care of your own teeth, and show your child how to emulate the positive behaviors you set forth.
If you have any questions regarding this article please contact us or call 909-465-1016.
The Ramona Dentistry Team
“Where Family Comes First”