Children’s Oral Care by Age
Stage 1: Dental Health Care Tips for 4 – 24 Months
It is important to get into a regular habit of cleaning your baby’s mouth and gums with a damp washcloth after all feedings at an early age. As soon as you celebrate your baby popping their first tooth, you should start brushing. To clean your child’s tooth (and following teeth) use a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should also use a small pea-sized portion of non-fluoridated toothpaste for younger children.
It’s important to book your baby’s first visit to the dentist within six months of their first tooth or by their first birthday, as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). After this first visit, regular six-month check ups will help ensure proper tooth development and oral health.
For additional information about baby teeth, see our blog post called Baby Teeth Chart.
Stage 2: Dental Health Care Tips for 2 – 4 Years Old
By the age of two your child can start using fluoridated toothpaste. This will help prevent tooth decay. As they become more independent you should encourage your child to brush their teeth on their own and assist at the end to make sure their mouth is properly cleaned. There are a number of ways to make children’s oral care fun.
For instance, when brushing their teeth:
- Let them pick out their own toothbrush or flavour of child’s toothpaste.
- Choose a teeth brushing song (one that is at least two minutes long to promote proper length of brushing).
- Include a fun activity that happens after they brush their teeth.
- You can even brush your teeth at the same time as your child to help set a good example.
Stage 3: Dental Health Care Tips for 5 – 7 Years Old
Continue supervising your child as they brush their teeth. The dexterity required to brush teeth independently often only comes around 7 years of age. If you haven’t already, make brushing and flossing part of their regular morning and nighttime routine. At this age children can start to lose their baby teeth and get their permanent molars and adult teeth, which makes children’s oral care at home even more important.
Stage 4: Dental Health Care Tips for 8+ Years Old
By this time your child is fairly independent and likely able to remember to brush and floss their teeth on their own but may need reminders. Supervise your child every now and again to make sure they are taking the proper time and care to brush and floss properly. You can also encourage healthy foods and minimize the consumption of sugary and acidic foods, which are hard on the teeth.
How To Brush Your Child’s Teeth
At your child’s dentist appointment our hygienist can help teach both you and your child proper children’s oral care techniques. This may include the best way to brush the teeth and how to identify any problem areas that you need to focus on.
These tips for brushing teeth can include:
- Holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Setting a timer for two minutes to make sure the process isn’t rushed.
- Making sure the surface of each tooth is brushed.
- Paying special attention to the surface of molars and behind the top and bottom front teeth which are prone to tartar build up and food debris. (See our page on Dental Sealants to learn more about how to better protect molars.)
If you (the parent) are brushing your child’s teeth, make sure that you brush every tooth in their mouth. Depending on your child’s age and preference you can lay them on their back, sit them in your lap, or stand behind them to brush their teeth.
Proper Flossing Techniques for Kids
It can be hard for a young child to learn how to properly floss their teeth. It’s more than just putting the floss between each tooth and pulling it out. Your child should use the floss to form a C around each tooth, creating a back and forth motion. Be sure to move up and down the side of each tooth. Consider buying floss picks to make it easier for your kids to floss, particularly between back molars, which can be hard to reach.
Additional Children’s Oral Health Care Tips
- Remember that the typical minty toothpaste we use as adults can taste spicy to a child. Allow your child to pick out their favourite flavour of kid’s toothpaste such as bubble gum flavour.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 6 months, or sooner if bristles are worn or your child has been sick.
- Ensure that your child eats a healthy diet and try to limit sugar intake.
- Teach your child the importance of abstaining from tobacco products.
- Pay special attention to your child’s oral health if they have diabetes (which puts their gums at risk), or if they are taking a medication known to reduce saliva flow.
- Schedule a regular dental checkup and cleaning every six months, or as recommended by your dentist.
With proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits, together we can minimize or eliminate the need for tooth extractions.
To learn more, call us at 905-476-2800.