Healthier Mouth, Healthier Body, Happier Childhood!
Oral health care at the very early stages of a child’s life is dependent on the child’s caregiver. Therefore, dental care and parents’ awareness of the relationship between oral health and the body’s health in general, and how to care for teeth is essential. Therefore, in this article, we are going to provide you with the guidelines on how to care for oral health at different age stages. The most important step to start with, is visiting your child’s dentist at an early age to have the knowledge prior to facing dental problems with your children.
How to Care for Teeth
1. After a child is born (before teething):
It is advised to clean gum pads with a gauze or a damp face cloth. And, when teeth start erupting (showing), a small soft toothbrush or a rubber/silicone finger tooth can be used to remove plaque and milk from teeth. This is advised either without toothpaste or with a zero-fluoride natural toothpaste
Now, as teeth keep erupting, it is important to know that an adult’s assistance remains necessary, until the child develops fine motor skills and can control brushing his teeth which is usually till the age of 8 to 10 years. At every stage, the appropriate toothbrush design and toothpaste should be used. For example:
2. From the age of 6 months to 2 years:
An extra soft brush should be used and as stated earlier without fluoride or with a zero-fluoride toothpaste and brushing should be twice a day to develop the habit.
3. From the age of 3 years to 6 years:
A soft toothbrush with a child’s toothpaste should be used, as the concentration of Fluoride is less than an adult’s toothpaste (500 Parts per Million). Also, it is important to note that only a small smear of toothpaste (pea size) should be used every time, as children tend to swallow it. Also, pressing it on to the brush bristles is good to reduce the chances of swallowing it. Fluoride is very useful to protect and strengthen teeth, but continuous swallowing does have harmful effect on teeth and health in general. After the age of 6 years: or when permanent teeth are erupting, a soft or medium toothbrush can be used (the dentist usually advises on which one to use according to examination of each child’s teeth) with an adult’s toothpaste; as at this stage children learn to spit properly and can avoid swallowing the toothpaste.
Tips on How to Care for Teeth
- Brushing is advised at least twice a day and it is usually in a circular motion and for two minutes at least. With the younger ones, parents should encourage the children by telling them “let’s count your teeth” and brushing their teeth in front of them always, as children tend to imitate their parents, only then they can develop the habit and sense its importance.
- Flossing twice a week by parents until the age of 8, and then by themselves helps preventing food from collecting between teeth and in areas that a toothbrush cannot reach.
- Mouthwash is also helpful. Under the age of 6, an all-natural mouthwash or just salted water should suffice for rinsing in case it was swallowed. After that, any mouthwash can help prevent cavities.
- Caring for diet is really important for oral health. Avoiding sweets and carbonated drinks is essential in maintaining a good oral health. In addition, parents should avoid letting their children drink milk at bed time without cleaning teeth, as it plays a major role in damaging teeth. As well as, putting sweetened drinks in bottles or Sippy cups promotes dental decay as well.
- Regular visits to the dentist, every 6 months, is crucial. As the Dentist guides on the proper way of brushing, and helps in applying techniques to avoid bad oral habits, in covering the teeth with a special substance called Fissure Sealants (specially for permanent teeth) to protect them and to administer topical fluoride that strengthens the teeth.