Dental Health

Brushing and Flossing Children’s Teeth

Dr. Nelson and the team at Summit Dental are often asked by parents how to care for their children’s teeth. In this article, Dr. Nelson answers some of these questions.

children brushing teeth

In children, teeth should be cleaned as soon as they emerge. By starting early, your baby gets used to the daily routine. A soft washcloth wrapped around your finger can substitute for a brush when teeth first appear. Ask us when you should switch to a toothbrush. We typically suggest waiting to use a regular brush until four teeth in a row have come out. An infant toothbrush can be used as soon as the teeth appear.

Here are some tips for taking care of your child’s teeth:

  • Choose a small, child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush. Soaking the brush in warm water for a few minutes before brushing can soften the bristles even more.
  • We recommend using only plain water for brushing up to the age of 2. This is because young children swallow toothpaste and swallowing too much fluoride may lead to tooth discoloration in the developing permanent teeth.
  • At age 2, start using a fluoride-free toddler training toothpaste.
  • Once a child can consistently spit out all of their training toothpaste without ever swallowing it, start using a fluoride toothpaste. This can be as early as 3 years old, or as late as 6. Ask us if you have any questions. Do check the manufacturer’s label; some toothpastes are not recommended in children under age 6. If a toothpaste is to be used, squeeze out about a green pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste onto the toothbrush.
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and just before bed. Spend 2 minutes brushing, concentrating a good portion of this time on the back molars. This is an area where cavities often first develop.
  • Replace the toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear. Never share a toothbrush with others.
  • Start flossing your child’s teeth once a day as soon as two teeth emerge that touch. The use of floss sticks or picks instead of regular string floss may be easier for both you and your child.
  • Ask us about your child’s fluoride needs. We recommend an in office fluoride treatment at least once per year.
  • Ask us about dental sealants. These are thin, plastic protective barriers that fill in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, protecting them from tooth decay. We will recommend these for cavity-free molars once they start erupting, around the age of 6 or 7.

When Should Children Brush and Floss on Their Own?

Most children lack the coordination to brush or floss their teeth on their own until about the age of 6 or 7. Up until this time, remember that the best way to teach children how to brush their teeth is to lead by example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene. If you child is interested in brushing his own teeth, great! Allow him to brush first, then follow by brushing his teeth for him. This helps kids learn how to brush well and you can help them learn the areas they are missing when they brush on their own. Plus, the teeth are all brushed very well using this method.

Any other questions? We are always here to help! Call or email and we are happy to talk with you about your child’s dental health needs.

Sources: American Dental Association, WebMD

Learn How to Floss the Right Way to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Do you know how to floss properly? Surprising enough many people don’t floss the right way. Watch this video to make sure you are taking care of your teeth the way you are supposed to! Here at Robinson Dental Excellence we like to see happy healthy teeth and gums! 🙂

AAPD Reminds Parents to Brush Children’s Teeth Two Minutes

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the authority on children’s oral health, is encouraging parents and caregivers to enjoy a happy Halloween by simply brushing their children’s teeth for two minutes, twice a day.

In time for back-to-school season, the AAPD joined with the Ad Council, as part of the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Health Lives, to launch a historic nationwide campaign designed to encourage parents and caregivers to modify their children’s oral health behaviors through low-cost, preventive strategies. Campaign media partners include Sesame Workshop, DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, My Kazoo! and many others.

According to AAPD President Dr. Joel H. Berg, “This first-of-its-kind campaign unifies dozens of dental organizations around a common message and raises the awareness of children and their parents about the importance of oral health, which is critical, and desperately needs attention on Halloween, and every single day of the year.”

In order to properly prepare for the Halloween holiday, AAPD urges parents and caregivers to visit the campaign’s website http://2min2x.org/ for key recommendations and tips on maintaining healthy teeth on this holiday and throughout the year:

  • Keep Kids’ Mouths Healthy: Parents and caregivers should help or watch over their kids’ tooth brushing abilities until they’re at least 8-years-old.
  • The Right Toothbrush: Kids should use a soft toothbrush that allows them to reach all areas of their mouth.  Remember to replace toothbrushes every three-four months and even sooner if the bristles are worn out, or if your children have been sick.
  • Attack Plaque: Plaque is a sticky film of germs that forms on teeth and gums after eating. Plaque that’s not removed by brushing twice a day can lead to cavities.
  • Visit a Dentist: It’s important to visit your dentist regularly your whole life, starting no later than age one. Seeing a dentist regularly is important for good oral health as dentists can detect small problems before they become bigger and more painful problems.
  • Floss Your Teeth: Kids should clean between their teeth once a day, every day, with floss or flossers to remove plaque and food where a toothbrush can’t reach. Children’s teeth can be flossed as soon as two of their teeth touch each other.
  • Use Fluoride: Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and occurs naturally in water and some foods. To help protect teeth from cavities, fluoride is added to dental products like toothpaste. Children two years of age or older should always use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Baby Tooth Decay Is Real: As soon as teeth appear in your baby’s mouth, it’s possible for your baby to develop cavities. It is important to keep your baby’s gums and teeth clean to prevent tooth decay, even in baby teeth.
  • Prevent Kids’ Tooth Decay: You can prevent tooth decay for your kids by lowering the risk of your baby getting the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Make sure you take good care of your baby’s teeth – this reduces the number of bacteria in your baby’s mouth.
  • Nutrition: A balanced diet helps your children’s teeth and gums to be healthy. A diet high in natural or added sugars may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay
    • A sugary or starchy food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Chewing during a meal helps produce saliva which helps wash away sugar and starch.
    • Sticky food’s, like potato chips, raisins and other dried fruit and candy are not easily washed away from your kid’s teeth by saliva, water or milk, so they have more cavity-causing potential.
    • Talk to your dentist about serving foods that protect your kid’s dental health.

In fact, AAPD has revised its Policy on Dietary Recommendations for Infants, Children, and Adolescents, which can be located at http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/P_DietaryRec.pdf.

For more helpful tips to ensure that your family enjoys a fun and healthy Halloween, please visit http://www.aapd.org.