EVERY PARENT KNOWS THAT TAKING CARE OF THE SMALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY IS A FULL-TIME JOB. Along with diaper changes, bath time, and medical checkups, parents also need to take care of their childrens teeth. But what are the best ways to go about caring for teeth (and baby gums!) during those early years? Here are some of Dr. Lee and Dr. Meyrowitz’s thoughts on the matter
Birth To 18 Months: No Toothpaste Required!
At L&M Orthodontics we believe, like most dentists, that oral care is important to everyoneno matter what their age.Dr. Meyrowitz and Dr. Lee recommend that you begin cleaning your childrens teeth as soon as the teeth begin to come in. For babies younger than 18 months, the best way approach is to use a wet cloth or gauzewithout toothpaste. Gently rub their teeth and gums with a cloth over your fingertip. This, along with nursing and/or drinking water, is all the oral hygiene that your child needs at the infant stage. Once your child has more of a full set of teeth, your can use a small, soft toothbrush to brush your childs teeth with water.
When To Start Toothpaste? 18 Months
In general, children should not use toothpaste until they are at least 18 months oldand when you do start using toothpaste, make sure it is a safe childrens toothpaste made especially for young ones. Young children have different dental needs than grown-upsand childrens toothpaste is made for this purpose.
What To Look For In A Childrens Toothpaste:
- SAFE TO SWALLOW: Most young children tend to swallow while brushing, rather than spitting out the toothpasteso we recommend that your childrens toothpaste is formulated with this in mind.
- USE ONLY A PEA-SIZED AMOUNT: Dont use too much toothpastejust squeeze a small, pea-size (or smaller) amount onto the toothbrush. Your child doesnt need much toothpaste to be effective, and you dont want your child to swallow too much toothpaste.
- CONSIDER LOW-FLUORIDE CHILDRENS TOOTHPASTE: Fluoride is an important element of keeping teeth healthy and strong, but too much fluoride can be harmful for young children. Several varieties of childrens toothpaste have lower amounts of fluoride or are fluoride-free.
- FUN FLAVORS: Try some different flavors of toothpaste and see what your child likes. Some childrenespecially at the toddler stageare very picky about flavors and might be reluctant to use a certain flavor of toothpaste. So be prepared to buy a few different varieties of childrens toothpaste and see which one is your childs favorite.
When can my child use adult toothpaste?
At our practice, we typically recommend switching to adult toothpaste with fluoride when your child is able to spit out most of their toothpaste after brushing. This usually happens around age 4-6. However, they should still only be using a pea-size amount.
REMEMBER: Brushing your childs teeth is part of parenting, and you need to start at a young age. By taking the time each daybefore bedtime and in the morningto clean your childs teeth with a specially formulated childrens toothpaste, you will be helping to create a lifetime of healthy dental habits and happy smiles!
Dont forget to come in for regular checkups and cleanings so that your childrens teeth stay healthy and strong! Set up an appointment with us through our contact page.