PARENTS KNOW 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 take care of their children’s teeth. So exactly what are the best ways to go about caring for teeth, and baby gums, during those early years?
Birth To 18 Months: No Toothpaste Required!
At Theurer Family Dental we believe, like most dentists, that oral care is important to everyone—no matter their age. You should begin cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the teeth begin to come in. For babies younger the 18 months, the best way to clean your child’s teeth is with a wet cloth or guaze—without toothpaste. Gently rub your child’s teeth and gums with a cloth over your fingertip. This, along with nursing and 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 child’s teeth. Still only use water, no toothpaste is necessary at this age.
When To Start Toothpaste? 18 Months
In general, children should not use toothpaste until they are at least 18 months old. When you do start using toothpaste, be sure to use one specifically made for young children. Children this age have different dental needs than grown-ups—and children’s toothpaste is made for this purpose.
What To Look For In A Children’s Toothpaste:
- SAFE TO SWALLOW: Most young children tend to swallow while brushing, rather than spitting out the toothpaste—so we recommend that your children’s toothpaste is chosen with this in mind.
- USE ONLY A PEA-SIZED AMOUNT: Don’t use too much toothpaste—just squeeze a small, pea-size (or smaller) amount onto the toothbrush. Your child doesn’t need much toothpaste to be effective, and you don’t want your child to swallow too much, even if it is a child-safe type.
- CONSIDER LOW-FLUORIDE CHILDREN’S TOOTHPASTE: Fluoride is an important element of keeping teeth healthy and strong, but too much fluoride can be harmful for very young children. Several varieties of children’s 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 children—especially at the toddler stage—are 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 children’s toothpaste and see which one is your child’s favorite.
When can children use adult toothpaste?
When your child learns how to spit out most of the toothpaste after brushing they are ready for a toothpaste with fluoride. This usually happens around age 4-6. Remember to teach them to still only use a small amount.
REMEMBER: Brushing your child’s teeth is part of parenting, and you need to start at a young age. By taking the time each day, before bedtime and in the morning, to clean your child’s teeth at every age will be helping to create a lifetime of healthy dental habits and happy smiles!
Leave us a comment on our Facebook site and on Twitter with any other questions you might have about toothpaste for the little ones—or any time you’re in our office we’d love to share more information with you.