As an adult, your oral care routine tends to remain fairly static for a large part of your life. You brush and floss. Perhaps, you rinse. Unless you need prosthetics, that’s about all you’ll ever do. However, what about your kids? What sort of oral care routine should they follow? Is it the same as yours? Should it change from time to time? Since it’s February, and Children’s Dental Health month is upon us, let’s take a quick dive into “what’s-what” from toddlers to teens when it comes to oral care.
- Use a warm washcloth or gauze pad to wipe your child’s gums after feedings. While most infants don’t begin sprouting teeth until around month six, you’ll still want to keep their gums free of oral bacteria that can develop from normal feeding.
- Before your child’s first birthday, visit the dentist for an initial check-up.
- Around month six, with the arrival of a child’s first teeth, you can begin brushing with an extra soft toothbrush or finger brush.
- By this age, your children will be brushing like a mad person. Be sure they learn not to brush too hard. Teach by example and they’ll keep this good habit their entire lives. Children need help brushing their teeth until around age eight when their dexterity improves.
- Pre-schoolers should use a rice size amount of toothpaste. It is best to go ahead with a fluoride toothpaste as long as you monitor your child and ask them to spit out the excess. With the widespread use of bottled water, children are not getting as much fluoride from city water to aid in developing teeth. Therefore, if a small amount of fluoride is ingested from the toothpaste, it is okay. If your child truly eats the toothpaste and will not spit, then a fluoride free toothpaste is okay.
- Once a child starts to have teeth that touch, you can introduce flossing. This is extremely variable and not related to age.
- Begin experimenting with disclosing tablets so your child can see how effective their brushing is as they learn to wield a brush on their own.
- Brushing and flossing should be the norm by this time in a child’s life. Experiment with a variety of floss options to find one that works for your child.
- Once a child learns to spit (this time varies widely), an alcohol mouth rinse could be used if warranted. Ask your dentist, but at this age, there isn’t often a need.
- Everything changes when kids become teenagers. Orthodontic appliances of all sorts come into play. Oral care can start to seem like a burden. Kids also start consuming high carbohydrate and acidic beverages, and some experiment with tobacco products. Therefore, brushing and flossing are obviously required, and mouthwashes can be useful, particularly for kids with braces.
- Proper prosthetic care is important to keep one’s mouth smelling and feeling fresh, so brushing the retainer becomes part of the routine.
- Once again, disclosing tablets are a good thing to use because, with orthodontics, it’s difficult to clean everywhere.
- Aggressive brushing at this time can contribute to early gum loss because of the physical interference of braces and lesser area to maneuver in a small mouth. Therefore, be sure your kids are getting up-to-date lessons on brushing technique from their dentist.
As you can see, setting an oral care routine for your little ones is mostly about prepping them for brushing, and the middle years are about getting them into the habit of doing things on their own. The teenage years are, at least a little bit, a fallback to having to be a watchdog on your kid’s behalf. They’ll gladly, and sometimes vehemently, disagree with you as to how to take care of their teeth. Your fun is in learning how to encourage, support and provide foresight without being too much of a parent while doing it! Easier said than done, right?!
Adams and Cheek Dentistry is here to treat your family members of all ages. Please call us at 919.866.1360 or click here to schedule an appointment!
*Information and blog provided by RevenueWell