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Importance of Childhood Oral Care

It is important to take care of your child’s oral hygiene. Here are a few tips that could help take better care.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft gauze or damp cloth. Once the first teeth erupt start with a baby brush or finger brush and a smear of non-fluoridated toothpaste.

At age 2, start using a low fluoride junior toothpaste (500ppm F). Use only a ‘rice grain’ amount of paste. This should be pushed into the bristles.

It is normal for your child to swallow the resultant foam till he/she learns to spit it out which usually happens by age 3-3.5 years. It is important to get children into the habit of good oral care at an early age as then they are more likely to have good dental habits as adults.

How should I brush?

Until 2 years of age brushing is intended more as a fun activity and part of a child’s daily routine. Always brush twice a daily to set up a good habit.

As the gums are tender due to erupting teeth, do not brush too hard, this will cause more discomfort and put your child off brushing. Use a baby brush with a small head and soft bristles.

Put your child’s head in your lap or stand besides your child to get a better view of the teeth. This will allow you better control of your brush movements.

Small horizontal strokes on the chewing surfaces of back molars and circular motions for the sides of back and front teeth are the correct brushing technique.

Is flossing required for my child?

Most of the front baby teeth have gaps between them and hence do not require to be flossed. Molars (back teeth) have very tight contacts causing food to get stuck that does not come out with brushing and may cause cavities.

If your child is a happy and regular brusher then introduce flossing between his/her 2 baby molar teeth once daily at around 4 years of age, as part of the oral hygiene routine.

Once the permanent molars have erupted one should floss regularly.

Why is night brushing important?

Brushing at night is extremely important in minimizing dental decay. At night, the salivary flow is reduced. Food that is stuck on the teeth remains there all night and is converted into acids, which slowly dissolves the calcium from the teeth, resulting in cavities.

Is it all right if my child wants to brush his/her own teeth?

You need to brush your child’s teeth till he/she is 6 years old. You may permit them to brush as a fun activity, but an adult must do the final brushing.

How much tooth paste should my child be using?

When teeth appear, start using a soft children’s brush without paste to clean the teeth twice a day. Between ages of 1-2 years, a non-fluoridated toothpaste may be used.

By 2 years of age, use a low fluoride toothpaste (450-500ppmF) to brush teeth twice daily.  Once your child learns to partly spit out the toothpaste you could increase the amount of paste to a ‘pea-size’ amount.

Always push the paste into the bristles so that children allow the paste to be used for cleaning and if at all, swallow only the resultant foam.

Dr Mala Jagtiani | Senior Consultant | Dental Sciences – Paediatric | Mumbai – SRCC Children’s Hospital

Narayana Health

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