It is never too early to start practicing healthy dental hygiene with your kids. Your child’s teeth are at risk for cavities and tooth decay as soon as they erupt. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common disease amongst children.
Luckily, tooth decay and cavities in young children can be avoided. Taking care of your child’s teeth and helping them establish good dental hygiene is as simple as following some basic guidelines.
How to Clean Your Child’s Teeth
From infancy until 12 months, clean your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth. Healthy gums should appear pink and smooth. Once the first tooth appears, which typically occurs between six and nine months, clean the surface of the tooth using a baby toothbrush and water.
Once your child reaches one year of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride-free toothpaste to clean their teeth and gums. You should avoid using toothpaste that contains fluoride until your child can safety spit to prevent the ingestion of excessive amounts of fluoride.
Children generally develop all 20 of their primary teeth by the age of three.
Proper brushing techniques will ensure that your child’s teeth and gums stay healthy. When brushing your child’s teeth:
- Add a pea-sized amount of no- or low-fluoride toothpaste onto a soft baby or children’s toothbrush.
- Tilt your child’s head back against your body so you can see the surface of their teeth.
- Angle the toothbrush bristles toward your child’s gums.
- Gently move the toothbrush around in circles.
- Be sure to brush all surfaces of your child’s teeth (outer, inner, and chewing).
- Once you have brushed all of the surfaces, encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste.
- When your child has at least two teeth that touch, start flossing their teeth.
Once a child reaches six years old, they should be able to brush their teeth independently. However, it is important that you continue to monitor their teeth and gums and encourage proper dental hygiene.
When to Start Seeing a Dentist
Both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that you start taking your child to the dentist within six months after their first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday.
Your dentist will be able to check for tooth decay, discuss diet and fluoride needs, recommend oral care products, and address any of your questions or concerns. After your child’s initial visit, you should continue to schedule regular visits and cleanings for every six months.
Does your child need a dentist appointment? Schedule one today!