Children’s Dental Care Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Care for your child’s teeth and gums from birth to avoid cavities and promote a lifetime of healthy gums and whiter teeth.

By the time you are able to read this article, you’re already a pro at brushing your own teeth. But for the tiny tot next to you, it’s not an intuitive no-brainer. Here’s the low-down on the best way for parents to care for their child’s teeth from the pre-baby-tooth stage up to the final Tooth Fairy visit and beyond!

Infant and Toddler Tooth Care

Begin cleaning an infant’s gums right from the start to stimulate gums and wipe away any milk or formula residue. It also gets the child into a good routine.

When a baby’s solely on breast milk or formula, use a clean washcloth and water, rubbing gently along the gums and eventually teeth. Graduate to a soft infant toothbrush and infant formulated (non-fluoride) toothpaste for older babies who have already been introduced to food. Visit a dentist like Discover Dental Houston before your child’s first birthday for a personalized dental care regimen.

Prevent Cavities in Preschool Children With Proper Brushing

Use a soft, child’s toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of non-fluoride toothpaste on your child’s teeth morning and night. The goal is to brush for two full minutes each time. Bring a timer or radio into the bathroom to help the child sense how long two minutes is, or purchase Tooth Tunes, the singing toothbrush that encourages two minutes of brushing.

At this stage, teach your child to rinse and spit out any toothpaste left after brushing. Begin to teach your child to brush independently, using a small, circular brushing motion. After he is done, “check” your child’s work afterward by brushing all his teeth again thoroughly. Focus on the chewing surfaces and back teeth, where cavities often develop.

Visit a dentist once or twice a year for cleaning and checkups, depending on the dentist’s recommendation. If your child’s teeth are close together, ask the dentist about flossing.

Take Your Child To An Orthodontist By Age Seven

Many parents wonder if their child should see an orthodontist, and the answer is usually around age 7. At this age, orthodontists can assess whether your child’s teeth are growing straight or if they will need braces later on. Even if your child’s teeth look straight, there could be problems with the way their jaw is growing that only an orthodontist could spot. If you wait too long to take your child to see an orthodontist, you may miss the opportunity to prevent more severe problems down the road. So if you’re wondering whether your child should see an orthodontist, the answer is probably sooner rather than later.

For School-Age Children, Select the Proper Toothbrush and Start Flossing

Using a properly sized toothbrush for your child’s small mouth allows you to access hard-to-reach small spaces in the back, deterring cavities and gum disease. When the child is able to rinse and spit out toothpaste, switch to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, making sure the child spits and doesn’t swallow the toothpaste.

While fluoride does prevent tooth decay, too much can cause defects in tooth enamel. Continue to supervise brushing at this age, and introduce flossing with a child-formulated flosser.

To brush, place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums and move it back and forth in gentle, short strokes. Clean all surfaces, including the insides of the front teeth and all surfaces of the back molars.

For Older Children, Proper Brushing Techniques and Good Habits Avoid Cavities

Graduating to a “big kid” toothbrush helps to foster self-sufficient dental care, although be sure to choose an appropriately sized brush to enable proper surface cleaning. Children may brush independently at this age, but they still need to be supervised, encouraged, and praised.

Continue to brush at a 45-degree angle against the gums, moving the brush back and forth slowly and gently, for at least two minutes at least twice a day, and floss regularly as well. Remind the child to spit out toothpaste, as swallowing too much toothpaste can damage tooth enamel.

Even if you take proper care, as children grow into adulthood, sometimes the unexpected can occur. In this case, there are other treatments available from for teeth replacement or implants to consider. 

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