As parents, we do our best to ensure that our children remain healthy and active. That also includes taking care of their teeth and ensuring that they retain their pearly whites throughout life. But have you ever wondered if you really know how to properly brush children’s teeth or why it’s important?
According to the American Dental Association, getting kids into the habit of brushing their teeth and teaching them the correct brushing technique can go a long way in ensuring their overall dental and physical health. Indeed, it can impact them for the rest of their lives.
“But my child’s baby teeth will ultimately fall out and will be replaced with permanent ones,” you may think. Why should I take care of them?” The answer is those baby teeth (sometimes called milk teeth, primary teeth, or deciduous teeth) are as important as your child’s permanent teeth.
Baby teeth not only give your child an adorable smile, but they also help in the optimal development of the jaws. This makes it strong and ensures that there is adequate size to allow for the eruption of the larger permanent teeth without any difficulty later in life. They also help your child learn how to eat and speak. Plus, your child’s primary teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth.
How To Properly Brush Children’s Teeth
According to the American Dental Association, your child’s dental hygiene care should begin as soon as the first tooth appears. Even before the teeth appear in the oral cavity, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you should clean your child’s gums with a soft, clean cloth — in the morning, after the first feed, and right before the baby goes to bed — to ensure optimal oral hygiene.
When your child’s first tooth appears, brush it with a soft, small-bristled toothbrush with plain water. However, if your community water supply does not contain sufficient fluoride concentration (< 0.7 mg/ Liter), you should consult your dentist regarding the use of fluoride toothpaste or other forms of fluoride supplements to make sure that your child develops strong and healthy teeth.
For children younger than three years, place only a smear of fluoride-containing toothpaste on the toothbrush. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle with respect to the teeth. Next, using short, gentle strokes, clean every surface of all teeth. You must use a soft-bristled toothbrush that carries the American Dental Association seal of approval. Once all the teeth have been cleaned, make sure that your child spits away the residual toothpaste.
When your child is old enough to hold the brush, let them brush their teeth under your supervision. Make sure they use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste and spit out the toothpaste when finished, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Continue supervising your child’s brushing routine until they develop good brushing skills. Electric toothbrushes can be used when the child is older.
Good oral hygiene is not just necessary for having pearly white teeth. Your child’s oral health can directly influence their overall health and physical well-being. That is why the importance of brushing your child’s teeth regularly and using the correct technique cannot be understated. So, develop an oral hygiene care routine for your kids today — and prevent them from developing bad dental habits — so they don’t have to worry about cavities and gum problems later in life.
About the Author
Dr. Mehmood Asghar is a dentist, educator, and researcher in dental biomaterials. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Dental Biomaterials at the National University of Medical Sciences, Pakistan, in addition to pursuing a Ph.D. in Dental Biomaterials. His research interests include silver-based medicaments for dental use, nanoparticles, fiber-reinforced composites, dental polymers, and contemporary dental ceramics. Apart from his professional activities, Dr. Asghar loves reading, writing, and working out. Currently, he’s writing for Bond St. Dental.