We’ve all heard the rule that we should brush our teeth twice a day but we get a lot of questions from parents about how to care for their child’s teeth so we want to answer some of these here.
When should we start to brush a child’s teeth?
It’s a good idea to start trying to brush as soon as a child has teeth. To start with this is really just to get your child used to the process and used to the taste of toothpaste. It becomes more important to clean the teeth effectively once all the baby teeth are through and your child is eating everyday foods.
Have a look at our video for good toothbrushing technique
How much toothpaste should we use?
The amount of toothpaste depends on your child’s age, starting from a small smear when your child’s teeth first come through up to a pea sized amount once your child starts school. Have a look at our video with a demonstration
On the Wirral we don’t have any fluoride in our water so we advise using normal adult toothpaste, which usually has 1450ppm (and at least 1000ppm) of fluoride, for the whole family so there is no need to buy expensive kids toothpaste for your children. In other areas of the country there is fluoride in the water, both added fluoride and naturally occurring. If you are in another area then check with your dentist for the local recommendations for children’s toothpaste. If you do need to use a kids toothpaste then we would recommend a mint flavoured one to avoid problems moving to mint toothpastes later on.
When should we brush?
As a rule you should brush teeth twice a day, morning and evening. You should leave a little time after eating (around 20 mins) before brushing teeth as the surface of teeth are temporarily softened from the acid attack that occurs when you eat so brushing right after eating can lead to more wear on the teeth. We have two young children at home and we’ve found keeping a set of toothbrushes in the kitchen makes all the difference when we’re trying to get their teeth brushed before getting to school.
What about flossing and mouthwash?
For children it is not necessary to use floss or mouthwash. Children’s teeth naturally have larger gaps between them than adult teeth so there is less chance of food becoming stuck in between.
What if your child swallows toothpaste when they brush?
You should encourage your child to spit but not rinse after brushing. However swallowing a small amount of toothpaste won’t cause any trouble and for children whose adult teeth are in development (right up to 15 years old) any fluoride swallowed will be incorporated into the developing teeth, making them stronger.
What causes the most damage to children’s teeth?
We all know that food and drink high in sugar are bad for our teeth and our general health but for our teeth the biggest problem is how often throughout the day that we eat and drink. For kids the big problem is sipping on juice, even natural fruit juice, throughout the day. Kids like sugary drinks and sweets and it’s ok to give them a treat but it’s much better for their teeth to restrict this to meal times and between meals stick to drinking water or milk. Never give a baby a bottle to constantly sip throughout the day even if it contains milk or formula. Bathing the teeth in anything other than water will result in decay.